Why should kids play?
Every educationist and educational philosopher has advocated the need for hands on play based learning. Our own Mahatma Gandhi who devised the 3 H method of education which involves the Hand, Heart and Head or good old Montessori who believed that play involves all the three aspects essential for learning, namely- the muscles, senses and the brain.
So here are 10 ‘brainy’ reasons based on brain research on why children should play:
- Touching, feeling, exploring, making, breaking are all activities that enrich the senses and this helps new synapses develop in the brain.
- Free play or play that involves choices, logic and thinking helps enhance the frontal lobe.
- The hand and the brain need each other- brain expert Wilson states that neurologically, "a hand is always in search of a brain and a brain is in search of a hand".
- Use of the hands to manipulate three-dimensional objects is an essential part of brain development.
- Imaginative play and role play are part of symbolic play. Symbolic play is when a child can use a symbol or object to represent another item. For example he uses a piece of block to be a telephone, etc. When a child is able to experience symbolic play he will definitely be able to excel in reading and writing activities as reading is nothing but representing a picture or word in a symbol (all letters and words are symbols)
- All play should make kids enjoy, as positive emotions enhance memory and no play should be stressful or too competitive as our bodies release harmful chemicals under stress, these chemicals are not good for the brain.
- Play that is self initiated, involving trial and error, problem solving, has cause and effect is good for developing neural pathways.
- Play helps develop language skills as more the sensorial experiences the child has, the more the child will want to talk about it and hence language development will be enhanced.
- Memory increases by revisiting information frequently. Play often, as children like to play the same games every day. It is fine as long as the interest lasts.
- Cross lateral movements keep both sides of the brain working. Therefore, the more creeping, crawling, marching play activities the child is exposed to, the better for his brain – How? Cross laterals are arm and leg movements that cross over from one side of the body to the other. Since, left side of the brain controls right side of the body and vice versa, the two sides are forced to communicate when legs and arms cross over.