To parents worried about their kids' future (which is most of us), the word "play" can sound like the opposite of "learning." Tip the scales from academic instruction to play? The kids fall behind!
WANT CREATIVE, CURIOUS, HEALTHIER CHILDREN WITH 21ST CENTURY SKILLS? LET THEM PLAY
"Play is not frivolous, it is brain-building," stated the country's premier pediatric organization.
The kind of play they're talking about isn't an adult-led activity, like Little League, or chess club. It is old-fashioned, unstructured, and kid-run. But even when it looks like just plain fun -- which it is -- children at play are learning "21st century skills, such as collaboration, problem solving and creativity."
Organize a game of four square? That involves "learning to cooperate and negotiate," according to the doctors.
Rough and tumble play? That aids "the development of empathy" as kids figure out how not to go too far.
Imaginative play enhances creativity. And playing almost any game teaches kids another key lesson: How to lose. Because they will. And that is the foundation of resilience.
All these social-emotional skills are key to a happy, successful life. But here's the big shock:
Play even makes kids ACADEMICALLY smarter:
"The benefits of play are extensive and well documented and include improvements in executive functioning [self control], language, early math skills, social development, peer relations, physical development and health," wrote the doctors. The opposite -- play deprivation -- "is associated with the increasing prevalence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder."
Or, as the Los Angeles Times put it: "In the pediatricians’ view, essentially every life skill that’s valued in adults can be built up with play."
One cool study? When pre-schoolers were given blocks to play with at home, on their own, they showed improvements in LANGUAGE ACQUISITION after just six months.
Language! And they were just playing with blocks! In play, the brain opens up and turns on.
So how can you give your kids this super-vitamin?
We suggest asking your school to offer the Let Grow Play Club before or after school.
It is open to all students, and all the ages play together. While adults are, of course, on premises, they do not organize the games, solve the disputes, or pick the children up with they fall. They are just around in case of an emergency.
That way, the children really get to play.
Which means they really get to LEARN.
If you'd like more info on the Play Club, watch our video, and feel free to drop us a line: Info@LetGrow.org.
Unsplash photo by @akeenster.