Every kind of play is a learning opportunity for child development. Playing fun games is one tool parents can use for child development and the absence of play can be an obstacle to the development of healthy and creative children.
Child development refers to how a child becomes able to do more complex things as they get older. When we talk about normal development, we are talking about developing skills like:
o Fine and Gross motor skills
o Cognitive development – decision making
o Creative growth – imagination, curiosity
o Social development – communication, self-control, self-esteem, self-confidence
o Emotional growth – the ability to deal with, manage, express and control their emotional states, including anger, sadness, excitement, anxiety and joy
At the end of the 20th century, scientists have discovered that our brain never stops growing and this astounding discovery has dispelled the belief that we are born with only so many brain cells and cannot be reproduced anymore and if these cells are not stimulated, they will be lost forever. Now it is official that our brain DOES NOT STOP reproducing new cells or neurons and the secret is to stimulate the existing and new brain cells to prevent them from dying off.
How does playing with children stimulate their brain?
- Brain growth in terms of the number of brain cells, the number of permanent neurological connections critical for learning and how these connections are wired are positively stimulated when the parents provide an enriched environment where they allow the kids to explore, play, have fun and develop deep bonding with them.
- Parents are unconsciously providing a conducive and loving environment when they are playing fun games with their children, where they “receive” signals or messages that they are loved, important and fun to be around which in turn develops their self-esteem and self-confidence.
Why playing during the children early years are essential for brain development?
Connectivity among brain cells are important for brain development for the fact that the neural pathways developed during the early years carry signals and allows one to process information throughout their lives. Timing is very crucial as even though learning is a life-long process, there are windows of opportunity where the brain is at its peak at creating neural pathways that facilitate specific types of learning. We have noticed a child below 10 years old is very adept at learning language but after about age 10, this aptitude for language development starts to diminish. During these early years, the children brains are like sponges and when parents program fun games as part of their children daily activities, are stimulating their brain cells, causing neural connections which are vital for strong memory and thinking skills.
How parents can help in child development?
Parents can help by playing simple activities and games with their children:-
- Finger-play and singing games like “One Little, Two Little, Three Little Indians” encourage children to learn rhythm, counting and eye-hand coordination.
- Playing stimulating activities and games, such as, puzzles and word problems. Puzzles are fun games which help children with abstract thinking skills, visualizing space and how shapes fit together.
- Pretend play, children love to pretend they are heroes, parents, or other adults doing “grown-up” things, improving their language and creative skills.
- Building blocks teach many math concepts and skills such as counting, length, height and patterns.
- Play-dough and clay give children of all ages, opportunities to explore changes in form as they mold the substance.
- Play board games, start a game of hide and seek, playing outdoors, read their favorite story books, work on crafts or hobbies, listening and dancing to music are some fun games parents can play with their children.
The activities and games parents can play with their children are endless. If parents are running out of ideas or would like to learn more on how to play with their child for their development, parents can try the “Mind Power Series” which is a set of 3 e-books having more than 360 fun games emphasizing on thinking skills to help children think and learn the fun and creative way and the most unique feature of this Series is that parents are guided with short, practical tips on how to get the best out of these games for child development.