Play leads to discovery, wonder, problem-solving, critical thinking and failure.
If you happened to be born before the rise of technology, you could probably remember your young years playing outside until the sun went down. Outdoor play was a critical part of growing up, and although things have changed in the world, playing in a non-structured environment with peers is just as relevant today as it was hundreds of years ago.
Playing outside with your peers until it was almost dark, stopping by a friend’s house on your bike, throwing a ball in the alley, and running the streets until your mom called you home was the norm—and as children, it taught us much more than we realized at the moment.
Unfortunately, unstructured play is not typically the same today, and not only does it affect a child’s brain development, but it can also have a negative domino effect on the world from a developmental, social, emotional, and economic perspective.
Brain Development, Health & Over-Scheduling
In an article titled, “Over-scheduling kids may be detrimental to their development,” by CBS News, study author Yuko Munakata states, “The more time kids had in less structured activities, the more self-directed they were and, also, the reverse was true. The more time they spent in structured activities, the less able they were to use executive function.”
In the same article, Dr. Caroline Martinez stated, “Over-scheduling kids may be detrimental to their development.”
She states the executive function of the brain includes a broad range of thinking skills that include planning, problem-solving, making decisions, and regulating thoughts and actions.
When kids don’t have the chance to play on their own, they miss critical parts of child advancement, which can lead to mental illness, including depression and anxiety.
Also, a lack of play can contribute to poor physical health leading to obesity and diseases that come along with being sedentary.
When children play, they begin to draw from their past experiences. Whether those experiences are with adults they’ve learned from, or through prior activities with friends or siblings—this is how they begin to build memories and truly learn.
Discovering for the first time.
Also, free play offers a positive experience for children, allowing them to explore and discover while at the same time developing their imagination, drawing in their natural creativity, and enhancing critical thinking thinking skills.
Lack Of Play And How It Can Affect The World
When you step back and realize the significant importance of play for one individual, you can see how these changes in society can influence the world as a whole.
Here are five ways free play contributes to the growth of entrepreneurship.
Discovery, leadership, and working together are just a few of the benefits when it comes to play.
Lack of play can also contribute to the loss some of the greatest thinkers, developers, scientists, and entrepreneurs.
When young children play, they are discovering the world around them. They are learning how to find things and fix them, and they’re also learning how things work and don’t work. According to Budding Scholars, “Discovery play is a major part of a child’s life. The other part is imaginative play. Discovery play allows children to learn about the world and how it works. Children learn best by doing, so discovery type of play is a natural fit for their development.”
When kids play outside, they are exposed to many different situations, including conflict resolution and problem-solving, which leads to critical thinking. For example, when kids ride bikes in the summer, and one child wants to go one way, and your child does not want to go—at that moment, your child has to make a critical decision.
These small, daily activities provide young people with the chance to learn how to make essential decisions early in their lives.
When kids are little, they usually like to conduct in a great deal of imaginary play. When youth play together, they learn how to solve problems alone, and within their community. They also learn how to negotiate, coordinate, create leadership skills, and navigate different ways to solve an issue or concern. Problem-solving is critical to entrepreneurship.
Procedures And Processes
When kids play, they begin to develop habits and routines. When those habits come to the surface, students naturally come together and create processes that can improve whatever they may be working on at the time.
Whether young people are working on a project with friends, setting up a game at the park, or building something at preschool, they are learning how to develop and implement processes and practices along the way. This is a skill that is necessary for successful entrepreneurs.
When toddlers learn to walk, you will often see them fall and get right back up again without a thought. When kids play in an unstructured, nonjudgemental environment, they are learning about failure—falling down and getting up again no matter how many times it takes them.
For example, take a group of girls who are playing hopscotch. As they play many times, you can notice that some girls will lean toward competition, others will learn leadership skills, and many will learn that even if you don’t win hopscotch this time, there is always next time for another game.
Failure teaches kids life lessons way beyond childhood.
If we, as parents, do not let our kids fail now, we will be setting them up for high-level levels of anxiety and depression when they become young adults. All children must learn that failure and success go hand-in-hand, and nobody wins immediately or rarely on the first try.
We must encourage our kids not only to fall, but to get up, reflect, shake it off, stand tall, and face the world proudly—regardless of how much time it takes to get there.
All of the experiences that former generations learned in the formative years still hold true for success today.
Not only are these experiences critical for a healthy society, but they are priceless when it comes to life-long learning and especially entrepreneurship.
The five skills listed above can still be part of every childhood. To ensure we have a world that is filled with wonder, discovery, problem-solving, and the ability to foster failure, our kids must go through these compelling experiences.
It is our job as parents, to put our mobile phones down, take our kids out for some sunshine, tree climbing, and bike riding. The scrapes and bumps, and all of the small life experiences our kids need should never be taken for granted.
We must care for our kids, so they become mentally, physically and healthy productive members of society.