Understanding How Playtime Supports Child Development

Playtime may look like it’s all fun and games, but it’s actually a vital aspect of child development. The playground is where children begin to learn who they are and how they relate to others. It’s where they find out firsthand what it’s like to skin a knee or get bitten by ants. Read on to learn about all the ways children benefit from unstructured play. 

Physical Development

When children play, they may not realize it, but they’re developing skills they’ll use for the rest of their lives. Playing with and manipulating objects helps them develop their motor skills. They also develop coordination, learning how to maneuver without falling and learning how different parts of the body, like eyes and hands, relate to each other. Not to mention the health benefits of moving around and going outside, like increased strength, endurance and better mood. 

Cognitive Development

Playtime stimulates children’s creativity and imagination. While it may not look that way from the outside, they’re creating their own little worlds while doing their favorite activities. They also start building problem-solving and critical thinking skills. It can start with learning that the square peg doesn’t fit in the circle hole and go on to learning that the swans at the lake don’t want to be pet. 

Emotional Development

Unstructured play allows children to express their emotions and cope with the stress of the ever-changing world around them. They learn to try new things and gain confidence as they discover what they can do. As they play with others, they learn about the best ways to interact with others in an uncontrolled situation. 

Social Development

One of the most important aspects of play is the social development that takes place. Children learn to communicate in a way that gets them what they want without upsetting others. Laughter and fun help them connect with others, no matter how different they seem from the outside. They learn to empathize with others, which fosters skills like cooperation and teamwork. 

The Decline of Unstructured Play

In today’s busy world, taking your child to the park for unstructured playtime can feel impossible, or at the very least, inefficient. Compared to previous generations, children today spend 50% less time on unstructured outdoor activities, according to the Alliance for childhood. However, they spend several hours a day on screens, where algorithms often decide what they’re going to do next. This leaves much less room for the mental and physical development children get by playing outside for an hour a day. 

Anyone can benefit from unstructured play, but it’s crucial for children. Our Orlando private school, located in the Catholic Diocese of Orlando, is committed to proclaiming the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ. We believe in teaching the whole child and want students to love learning, helping them grow into well-rounded, contributing members of society. Learn more about us by contacting us here.