Creative Play is Important for Children's Mental Development
Creative play is important for kids, and their development in many different ways. As they learn to entertain themselves with fantastic games, it assists in their brain development, and teaches them to be able to be more creative and engaged with the world around them.
Have you ever noticed how kids can entertain themselves for hours outside playing with sticks? Or how they like to get into the Tupperware cabinet and play with all the dishes in there? Kids don't need a bunch of expensive toys to be happy. It is important for us to foster this kind of unstructured play.
I was reminded of this yesterday when my daughter decided that she wanted to play with a bunch of empty coke bottles. The cats had started rolling them around on the floor, and she took up the game. It's amazing the things that kids can find to entertain themselves!
According to The Little Gym,
Creative play is a vital part of childhood and child development. Through creative and imaginative play children can grow emotionally, socially, intellectually, and even physically. Creative experiences help a child develop these skills and enable them to share their thoughts, feelings and ideas. Exposing children to creative opportunities contributes to, and furthers their development. Coming up with ways to play creatively doesn’t have to be stressful or take a lot of time. In fact, over-structuring is the opposite of creative play.
As parents, a lot of times we are assigned the role of playmate, and we have a tendency to overcomplicate what kids want to do and provide structure. We take kids to all kinds of classes, from gymnastics to music lessons and more.
The Importance of Creative Play
Sometimes though, it is best just to let kids be kids, and to engage in the things that they want to do, not the things that we want them to do. When we allow them to follow their own path and march to their own drummer, not only are we allowing them to be happier, more self-assured and feel like their ideas matter, we are also helping their brain development.
According to the Australian Parenting Website, creative play can:
develop creativity and imagination
explore their senses – sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste
learn about the world and their place in it
explore and express emotions, thoughts and ideas
try out new ideas and ways of doing things
practise and improve social skills
build vocabulary and memory
develop fine motor skills, gross motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
By not structuring every minute of the day, we can help our kids to have fun learning about the world, and experiencing so much of the world around them.
Since being in Germany, we have gotten the opportunity to see our daughter, River, out in nature more. We go and do things like walking or riding bikes along the river, going to see animals, or exploring trails through the woods.
There are all kinds of amazing opportunities for kids to play creatively no matter where they are. They have wild, boundless imagination to guide them, and all they need is some sticks or a plastic bottle and they can create fantastical games for themselves.
Creative play helps brain development
When children play creatively, it helps them learn to think in all sorts of unique ways. It is unscripted. This can help them learn how to be problem solvers, and to look for outside-the-box solutions. It is amazing to see the things that they come up with all on their own.
According to The Brain Workshop, creative play helps with:
Creative play is important for healthy brain development
Creative play improves intelligence, learning, and memory
Creative play stimulates creativity and imagination
Creative play develops the brain’s executive functions
Creative play improves cognitive development
When kids are allowed to play creatively, it helps them to develop mentally in many ways that they don't learn quite as well in other ways. In addition to problem solving, kids who play creatively become better at managing their emotions and even do better in school.
So, next time your little one wants to regale you with imaginary stories, go run in the woods, or make some mud pies, remember that in addition to being fun, it is also good for their little brains.
It is good for us to encourage our kids to think creatively as much as we possibly can to benefit them both now and in the future as well.