I just read an excellent article titled “Curiosity, Pleasure and Play” by Bruce Perry, Lea Hogan and Sarah Marlin. If you would like to read the entire article, please click on the link. In this week’s blog I thought I would summarize for you the important points.
The neurobiological development of the brain has several core concepts that illustrate the central role of play in healthy development. The authors articulated 3 fundamental core concepts that reinforced Family Christian Counseling Center’s commitment to encouraging play within our families.
3 Core foundations of Brain Development
- Sequential development – during the brains development it grows in a sequential fashion, starting from the lowest regions and building up to the most complex parts. Play during development of the brain mirrors sequential process. In early childhood for example when the brain is developing motor-vestibular areas, play for children is much more centered around motor activities.
- Use dependent development – Neurodevelopment is dependent upon the presence, pattern, frequency and timing of experiences. The more patterned the activity the more the brain responsible for those activities will organize itself and be functional. Play has a crucial role in providing the repetitive experiences that can improve and grow the potential of all areas of the brain. The more opportunities for enriched play activities the more repetitions that will occur.
- Windows of opportunity – of all the experiences throughout life the most powerful and enduring ones are the experiences of early childhood, especially the ones affecting early brain development. With play we have an inexpensive and efficient way to help children develop. The best toy for a young child is the invested, caring adult – someone to pay attention, to engage and play with the child using words, songs, touch and smile.
What can be learned?
Through play, a child’s sense of who they are can become defined and integrated. As a child learns about who they are, they acquire a range of important developmental, social, and cognitive skills that help form the basis of happiness, productivity, and a healthy future.
Gross motor skills such as walking and kicking a ball develop large muscle control, tone and flexibility. Children can develop fine motor skills while playing with their fingers to color a sign for the front yard. They have opportunities to work on language skills through play by talking and singing with other children. A child’s mental abilities can be enhanced by play, play often involves physical and mental trial and error, problem solving and the ability to pick out the important information to work together. When children argue and say “I’m not it, you didn’t really tag me”, they are learning how to negotiate and compromise. Playing with peers develops a learning system of social rules including how to control themselves and tolerate frustration.
Lets not forget to allow time for our children to “just be kids”.