Educational Benefits of Play

Children love to play, and it’s an essential part of early education. Even in the simplest of games, children are learning critical life skills and educational concepts. Here are some of the educational benefits of play.

  • Develops math skills: Building with blocks, jigsaw puzzles, drawing, and coloring teach foundational math concepts such as patterns and shapes. Additionally, songs involving numbers and counting are a fun way for a child to learn math concepts.
  • Builds social skills: Play is an ideal way to learn social skills in an enjoyable and safe environment. When playing, children share ideas, express their feelings, recognize emotions in others, and negotiate problems. According to Psychology Today, “Play requires negotiation and agreement, so everyone’s needs are met.”
  • Encourages creative thinking: Creative thinking is about more than arts and crafts. According to recent studies, children who engaged in pretend play showed greater ability to solve divergent problems, as well think through “what if” scenarios.
  • Helps children practice real-life scenarios: A 2008 study suggests that children use play as a way to practice the sorts of life skills and scenarios that they will eventually do as adults. For example, when a child pretends to play “store” with friends, they are mimicking concepts such as purchasing items, running a business, and customer service.
  • Strengthens language skills: Recent studies have shown that “preschoolers use complex mental-state verbs such as say, talk, tell, write, and explain when they are engaged in make-believe play.” Playing with friends of varying ages is also an ideal way for a child to learn new words with the correct context.
  • Teaches emotional regulation: Play and make-believe are safe environments for children to work through their feelings, and investigate solutions to problems in a way they can control. It helps children to reduce stress and anxiety, and practice coping mechanisms. In particular, playing with parents helps a child feel safe and secure.

The educational benefits of play are numerous. While having fun with you or with friends, your child will learn critical life skills and educational concepts.