Why Playtime Is Important for Cognitive Development in Preschoolers

cognitive development in early childhood

Play is key for healthy cognitive development in early childhood. Active participation in playtime helps preschoolers meet their developmental milestones.

Playtime teaches preschoolers how to interact with peers, solve problems, and control their actions to be successful while playing within the rules of a game. According to The Atlantic, the time devoted to free play has continued to decline, which can affect attention, self control, and thinking and reasoning skills. Preschool is a time of rapid growth where playtime is much more than play – it’s essential for cognitive development in early childhood. Here are a few ways you can create an environment for positive, impactful play where preschoolers can learn, discover, and explore.

Practice Problem Solving

The ability to solve simple and complex problems is a major milestone for cognitive development in early childhood. When preschoolers play board games together, they have to use their critical thinking skills to devise the best route around an obstacle. Card games, like ‘Go Fish,’ encourage kids to try out several strategies and internally gauge the success of each one. Hopscotch is another game that requires the ability to overcome a simple problem by finding a workaround. As preschoolers enjoy playtime, they learn how to devise solutions for novel problems of all kinds. These problem solving skills transfer to a school setting and help prevent expulsion from early childhood education programs.

Develop Language Skills

Preschoolers can comfortably communicate with their close family members and friends of the family without using many words. When kids are brought together to play, however, the ability to speak clearly is an important skill to have or develop. Kids might set up an imaginary shop and use language learned while shopping with their parents to purchase pretend items. Preschoolers may need to explain the point or rules of their game to bring other kids in on the fun. Of course, preschoolers have to utilize their language skills to handle disputes with other kids and build strong friendships. The best playtime activities for language development are make-believe games centered around daily tasks, such as cooking, shopping, and building.

Enhance Creativity

Give a preschooler a piece of paper and a crayon, and then watch a vibrant world emerge from their imagination. As kids use their imagination during playtime, they build their creativity in exciting ways. Creativity is an important skill to have because it allows kids to make interesting connections between ideas to develop a unique worldview. Allowing kids to create their own worlds using clay, paint, crayons, or even puppets helps to hone their imagination and build their creative outlook. As kids play together, they even build on each other’s pretend worlds, which strengthens creative insight and adaptability.

Facilitating Ample Playtime

To help facilitate brain development in children, you must set up ample opportunities for free play, preferably with their peers. Preschoolers can more easily make new friendships if there is an element of play involved in the activity. Local parks, school playgrounds, libraries, and community centers are great places for preschoolers to interact with peers and parents to develop connections with the families of their child’s friends. Parents can schedule playdates with families who have kids of a similar age. Instead of a structured playtime, setting up stations that allow kids to switch between activities at their leisure is a good way to stimulate creativity and active participation.

Naptime Academy offers online courses that help preschool professionals keep children active and engaged during playtime, which is essential for cognitive development in early childhood. Contact Naptime Academy today at 844-435-7682 to learn more about your online learning opportunities as an early childhood educator. Courses on play like “Play to Learn” and “Let’s Get Preschoolers Moving” are available for groups as well as for individuals.