In the early stages of a child’s life, their brain is constantly developing and needs continual stimulation. Whilst education is a focal point for children and their development, allowing children to express themselves and improve their physical, social and cognitive skills is an enormous part of their development.
As a parent or teacher, training their brain and body to function in the real world is vital, so you should be teaching them as often as possible. If you visit and observe any nursery or school playground, you’ll notice many different experiences for children to get involved in – from sand and water to role-playing areas.
Children love getting creative and getting involved with any activity that lets them express themselves. Creative play is fundamental in improving our children’s physical, social, cognitive and emotional development, making it the perfect way to boost and develop basic skills for everyday life.
What is Creative Play?
The definition of creative play is children’s play (such as modelling or painting) that tends to satisfy the need for self-expression as well as to develop manual skills. These creative activities are incredibly important, especially in the early years, when looking at the development of students.
Creative play allows children to be children and let them have fun! Whether it’s arts and crafts, drawing, painting, building, cutting, modelling or playing around with household objects, creative play is an easy way of getting children involved. Creative play can have a very positive impact on a child’s day-to-day development and experience.
The best materials to use are ones that are used in everyday life, for example, fabrics, costumes, recycled objects or other sensory materials. Creative play sparks imagination as children can make use of and create their own ideas with whatever materials and tools they have available.
What are the benefits of Creative Play?
Creative play also allows children to express their creative ideas and imagination, which is an integral part of learning. It lets them learn about and explore the world around them whilst enabling them to share their ideas, thoughts and feelings. This can be a highly beneficial method of learning for children as they learn best by getting involved and experimenting with new things rather than physically sitting down and listening.
“Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play, children learn how to learn.” – O. Fred Donaldson.
There are many other benefits of creative play that go well beyond the level of enjoyment that children get from being involved. The main benefit of creative play is that it develops valuable language and communication skills which they need in everyday life. This sets the foundation of their skills and knowledge to benefit them in the future and helps them strategise, communicate and encourage their social skills.
Children often express their emotions through stories, drawing, painting or activities rather than through words. These methods help them to understand their feelings more, particularly if they otherwise wouldn’t express how they feel. Creative play promotes children to integrate these feelings into activities so that they can creatively express their thoughts and emotions in a way they are encouraged to do so. Through this, they will be able to articulate their thoughts and feelings more easily as they grow up.
When getting involved with creative play in the early years, young children can gain basic problem-solving skills. Creative play boosts their intellectual development by improving their cognitive skills, as creative play allows children to pay attention, process how things work as well as analysing why it works. Studies show that children who engage in creative play are more likely to pay attention to teacher’s instructions than children who don’t.
Basic problem-solving such as figuring out how things work and how the world works will help them learn about more complex problems later on in life. This enables our little ones to follow instructions, solve problems and make their own decisions.
Creative play benefits physical development in children by improving their fine motor skills and their control. It can also improve their hand-eye coordination which will help them later on in life with sports and writing.
Playing with small objects in creative play can help them with controlling a pencil or paintbrush, making it the perfect activity for progressing their early physical development.
When engaging in creative play, young children can interact and socialise with their peers. It’s a great opportunity to share their ideas and imagination with other people around them. This helps with their social interaction skills, basic communication skills and their confidence too.
All of these skills learnt through creative play will enable them to learn academically. As a toddler or young child, exploring, discovering and learning new things can be exciting. This is why the best way of learning is through observation and being hands-on. With so many benefits of creative play, it’s the best excuse to encourage it!
How to get involved with Creative Play?
Creative play can involve any materials or space, making it extremely easy to get involved. It doesn’t have to be a stressful activity with a lot of thought or planning, but just something simple which will get them excited and involved.
The best way of encouraging creative play is to use easy and simple objects, such as recycled objects and items you might find around the house, including egg cartons, tin-foil, bubble wrap, to name just a few. You can also use sensory objects, including sponges, paper and clay. You can get involved with creative play in any area, whether it’s outside on playground equipment, in a field or even indoors in a classroom.
Whilst young children can be spontaneous and excited to try new things, it’s a great way of interacting with them and letting them develop their emotional, physical, intellectual and social skills. To get involved with creative play, you can follow your child’s lead and get involved in the fun!
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