For years, people thought that children should be spending more time in the classroom than the playground. Play was always seen as nothing more than frivolous fun that let kids get rid of excess energy, while what they did in school would prepare them for the future. However, recent studies have shown that while school is important to a child’s cognitive development, playtime could actually be more beneficial than anyone ever realized.
Building a Better Brain Through Play
According to scientists such as Sergio Pellis of the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, the very experience of play changes the neurons in a child’s prefrontal cortex. It is these changes that rewire the brain and allows it to regulate emotions, solve problems and form relationships with others. Interestingly enough, these changes only happen during play, implying that the playground may be more valuable to young children than the classroom.
Children should be engaging in what is known as free play, meaning that it is almost completely unstructured. This may seem to defeat the purpose of playing to learn, but when children are allowed to run free without any rules, they begin to work together and develop their own rules. They come up with their own games and decide what roles they play, and they have much more fun because of it. This happens whether children are roughhousing, playing with toys or building something with Legos. They learn to work together and solve problems, skills that everyone will need as they grow older.
Interestingly enough, the benefits that come from unstructured playtime are universal across several species. Young children owe their development to playing together, but so do animals such as dogs, cats and other mammals. Unstructured play can be observed across animal species, and nearly all of them learn about social interaction through seemingly rough play.
Learning on the Playground
Although unstructured play seems to be best for young children, kids can still benefit from a playground or indoor play area. These places provide plenty of opportunities for children to play together safely, and many modern playgrounds are elaborate and inventive enough to stimulate any child’s imagination and creativity. Slides and jungle gyms can be just about anything to a child, so they should never be ignored when it comes time for recess.
Whether children are playing tag in an empty field or running around on the playground, there is no doubt that their playtime is far more important than anyone has ever realized. The classroom will always be essential, but childhood should never be all work and no play. Give your children the escape they need with a visit to Kid Junction. The indoor playground for children in Chantilly, Va provides a clean and safe environment for kids to roam free through dozens of attractions and interactive play areas. Give your child an experience they won’t soon forget, take a trip to Kid Junction today!