“Play is our brain’s favourite way of learning” – Diane Ackeman

As a Teaching, Learning and Play Expert I am often asked “What is play?” and I often reply simply, that play is fun! Play is learning, play is everything! Play allows us to escape the structure of our day to day lives and immerse ourselves in pleasure and enjoyment. In the words of Albert Einstein, “Play is the highest form of research” and it is essential to children’s social, emotional, physical and cognitive development. I am an advocate for the power of play in learning and have put together 5 reasons we should all be playing more– no matter what age:

1. Development of self-worth

When we truly allow children the time, freedom and space to play we are truly allowing them to learn. Play develops a child’s sense of self-worth by giving them a sense of their own abilities. It gives children a safe space to investigate, create, test, problem solve and hypothesise without a formal given structure to follow. We are allowing children to use their natural curiosity to explore what is around them, ask more questions, test theories and knowledge and take risks.

2. Happiness

Happy children = happy learners. Play helps children gain confidence, boost their self-esteem, build relationships and relieve stress. It is also crucial for their emotional development and allows them to cope with emotions such as frustration, anger or fear in a situation they can control. It is the perfect opportunity for them to practise empathy, compassion, understanding and build up their resilience. By playing, children can learn to cope with their emotions and find solutions to situations they face. Children will not learn if their mental health is poor, play has a positive impact on children’s mental health.

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