In a world filled with constantly evolving technology, children have access to more innovative opportunities and resources than ever before. However, it is still essential for them to be able to express themselves and enjoy time to be free and creative through simple play.
Play allows children to benefit physically, emotionally, cognitively, and socially, helping them build confidence, resilience, social skills, independence, curiosity methods for responding to adversity and challenges, and many more essential skills that will be used in their everyday lives.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children and adolescents between the ages of 6 and 17 should be getting at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity on a daily basis, while the World Health Organization says that children younger than the age of 5 should spend at least 180 minutes each day in a variety of physical activities at any intensity level. Physical play helps children in a number of ways, including sharpening their reflexes, improving motor skills, building stronger muscles, improving bone density and increasing cardiovascular function. They are ultimately able to use their bodies in different ways while also strengthening connections in the brain.
When children have time to themselves to play, they are able to take time to regulate and work through the emotions they feel. They are not quite like adults yet in being able to escape stress and anxiety by engaging in hobbies and interests, so they use playtime to restore joy and worry-free mentalities without always knowing they are doing so. It’s simply a time for them to step into their own creative worlds where reality doesn’t have to play a role.
Whether they are trying to do so or not, while playing children learn and experience significant cognitive growth and development. They are not being instructed what to do, so they apply their own creativity and problem-solving skills as they go about their unstructured activities. Whether they are pretending they’re at a grocery store, dining at a restaurant, taking care of a household, or taking part in a number of other real-world scenarios, they are allowing their brains to remain active and further develop as they think through their words and actions.
While solo play gives a child the opportunity to build a stronger sense of self-confidence and independence, it can also help him or her further develop appropriate social skills and gain the ability in making and interacting with friends easier. When playing with others, children observe interactions and are better able to understand social cues. When playing alone, they begin to recognize their own unique abilities and learn the roles they play in social situations.
It’s because of these many benefits that Downey Unified School District fosters an environment that affords ample opportunities for play while also helping students develop passions for learning. This is one more way that we show our commitment to developing all students to be self-motivated learners and productive, responsible, and compassionate members of an ever-changing global society.