How Does Play Promote Cognitive Development?

As we become parents, we understand in a very intuitive way the importance of play for children.


Over the last decades, many studies have paid special attention to the function of play and how does promotes cognitive development.


However, it is common for some parents to believe in play as a waste of time. This probably has to do with some historical misconceptions about leisure and amusement versus the great deal of importance that “work” has for our societies.


Regardless of that historical statement, play promotes the acquisition of key developmental milestones that will guide our children to the path of growing and facing the challenges of life.


According to the American Psychological Association, cognitive development refers to:


The growth and maturation of thinking processes of all kinds, including perceiving, remembering, concept formation, problem-solving, imagining, and reasoning. Various cognitive developmental theories exist that attempt to explain the mechanisms underlying such growth and maturation. Explanations may be in terms of stages of development in which the changes in thinking are relatively abrupt and discontinuous, or the changes may be viewed as occurring gradually and continuously over time.


We can say that cognitive development is all those actions that characterize us as humans. So, how does play promote cognitive development?


Let us dive into this subject.

Exploration and discovery.

One of the first stages of play is exploratory play.


During this particular phase, children learn how the world around them feels and works. It is natural for children to want to explore the world, and that curiosity is one of the first signs of cognitive development.


Children who engage in exploratory play are more likely to explore and learn more independently. More than that, exploratory play is one of the first stages for children to develop problem-solving skills.


Now that you found this toy, you must learn how to use it, how it works.


You can read more about exploratory play and cognitive development here.

Play helps with concentration and improves learning.

Even though it sounds like contradictory arguments, some studies show that kids and young children pay more attention to academic tasks after a short break to play.


All over the world are schools and universities that have short periods of breaks after each class. The time we can focus our attention on something is limited —some studies suggest that a fully developed adult can focus their attention on something for around 45min—


When kids are allowed to play freely, their attention is more focused and sharp, which allows them to retain knowledge better.

Play helps with language skills and development.

There is a strong link between play and the development of language skills.


Pretend play or dramatic play is that particular stage of play when children engage in fantasies of their own creation.
Whether is copying some day-to-day activities like going to the office or a more elaborated fiction, this type of play has an important role in the first steps of language development.


In his study The impact of play on development: A meta-analysis Edward Fisher concludes that “sociodramatic play results in improved performances in both cognitive-linguistic and social affective domains.”


When children engage in dramatic play, they are more likely to express themselves. What they feel, the rules of the game they just create, what are the roles of everybody during the game, and so on.


Also, playing pretend helps with creativity and imagination, both components of abstract thinking.


You can learn more about play pretend here. And here you can find some great play pretend ideas.

Play, abstract thinking, and spatial reasoning.

Playing with blocks is a good way to encourage spatial reasoning, which is the ability to think and manipulate objects in three dimensions.


Spatial reasoning is one of the most complex forms of abstract thinking besides language. There is a strong association between spatial reasoning and better math skills.

What conclusion can we draw from all of this?

First of all, it is important to understand that playing is an act of discovery, of facing the world. All the basic knowledge we acquire in the first years of our life comes in the form of a game, a song, a board game.


Playing is a great tool to enhance and reinforce the knowledge gained during school time. Gamification in the classroom is more than just a way to make children feel happy while learning grammar.


When children play games, they can gain proficiency in many aspects of their educational process.


If you want to learn more about gamification in the classroom, leave us a comment below. We are taking notes of the thing you love to read.


At Spimbey, we are eager to join you in the path you are about to take with your family.


We want to be near you and see your children grow and become beautiful individuals.


With our products, lovely memories and hours of playtime are a guarantee.


Spimbey is the pinned location for fun.

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