Cognitive development encompasses all the ways in which children think, explore the world they live in and figure out different things. Through it, children can establish an understanding of what goes on around them, which is why it’s extremely important that parents animate their little ones and encourage their cognitive development. One great way to do this is to simply let them play. When it comes to unstructured play, parents aren’t always aware of how much it means to their children and how many benefits their little ones can reap from it. If you’re wondering what exactly children can learn from things you find silly, such as playing in the mud or rolling down the hill, here are some examples of the benefits in question.

Improved verbal skills

Children start saying certain words even before their first birthday, name various objects by the age of three, they can form sentences by the age of four and tell stories by the age of five. It’s clear that this is a crucial period for the development of their verbal skills, and one of the ways they do this is through roleplay, imaginative play and pretend play. Whether they have a dinner party with their toys, imagine that they’re superheroes or pirates, or they pretend to be a doctor who wants to treat all the teddy bears and dolls, they’ll be making conversations either with their toys, their imaginary companions, or other children who are playing with them. Perhaps they’ll hold speeches or give orders to their toy soldiers, but wherever their play takes them, they’ll be working on their verbal skills without even thinking about it.

Enhanced imagination and creativity

Another thing children can achieve through different types of free play is to develop their creativity and imagination. After all, you can give them an old cardboard box and a spent paper-napkin roll and what they’ll see is a ship and a monocular they can use to sail across seas and explore new lands. Also, nowadays there are many exceptional educational toys you can provide them with, some of which will allow them to make their own 3D objects and express themselves creatively. Artistic children will love these kinds of toys, but so will those who don’t really lean towards art. They will have fun trying new and different things, without actually being aware of how these outbursts of creativity are shaping their minds for the better.

Better hand-eye coordination

Hand-eye coordination is one of the most important cognitive skills, which allows kids to use their vision and hands simultaneously to perform tasks. This is something which is used in most of our daily activities, like writing, driving or playing sports, and that’s why this particular cognitive skill should be developed as well, and as early as possible. Some forms of play that promote the development of this skill include playing with sand, water or playdough. Even activities such as dress-up can help, since they require good hand-eye coordination for children to change their clothes. Similarly, drawing and coloring, but also solving puzzles and playing with blocks are also wonderful and very useful ways for your children to spend their time and play, since they can improve their hand-eye coordination, too. 

Boosting social skills

People are social beings and this is something that should be addressed at the earliest of a child’s age, since it will determine how your child will interact with others and build meaningful relationships with them. Again, unstructured play can be of great assistance here. For example, playing board games can help your child grasp the concepts and the importance of turn-taking and sharing. Furthermore, any type of free play can do a lot for your kid’s social skills if they play with other children. This type of social interaction, usually without adult guidance and defined goals, gives them the opportunity to develop empathy and thoughtfulness for others on their own, while boosting their self-esteem and enhancing their sense of self. Plus, games that children play in teams or pairs can teach them a lot about teamwork and the value of others’ effort an opinion.

To your grownup mind free play may seem like mindless running around and making clean clothes dirty, but in reality, it allows your children to grow into intelligent and happy people. So, whenever the opportunity arises, just sit back, relax and let your child play.

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