There is hardly any denying that movement or motor skills are a focal aspect of young children’s` lives. It is an important dimension of all aspects of their optimal development, whether in the cognitive, motor or effective realms of human sociology. Those who deny children the chance to enjoy the benefits of  learning through play on a regular basis are in essence denying them the opportunity to experience the joy of the mastery in movement, health benefits of early movement, and a life as competent and dexterous individuals. Although play may be a focal aspect of the development of motor skills, not many individuals have sufficient insight into the benefits of such activities for kids. What is more astonishing is the fact that, nowadays a majority of academic institutions are substituting regular play for a quieter learning environment.

toddler developing motor skills - learn through play

Play and Motor Skills Development

It is a well-known fact that sufficient motor play is directly proportional to adequate physical development. A growing body of research helps to highlight the way this happens. Recent studies have observed that motor skills that are mainly enhanced when children engage in play. More so, the studies have also identified the importance of a guardian or parent that can supervise play to strengthen the effect on adequate motor skills development. One prevalent view is that early child motor skill are mainly involuntary, reflexive and particularity related to motor abilities in life.

For instance, children as young as five to seven months of age are known to calibrate their hand grasp and motor reach skills to both the traits of the designated objects they are playing with and the floor surfaces on which these kids play. Such kind of playful manipulation of items provides the basis for the later acquisition of motor control skills when throwing, such as ball handling during sports in preschool years.

According to one recent, study by the Department of Health Western Australia, young children who were exposed to regular play, had better mastery of grasp, reach and walking movements than those who were not.

In other words, as infants get older, they gain control of essential locomotive skills when they play, crawl, stand or even sit. Children who master of such kind of competencies have a strong co-relation to the quality and frequency of the motor play that they engage in when playing alone or even on the playground.

How Should Caregivers Enhance Child Play?

In evaluating and improving infant play, adults need to consider some of the most subtle aspects of movement that are important indicators of motor skills ability. It may not be sufficient to determine whether a young child can reach for objects or can’t, or whether they have made their first baby steps. Caregivers must be able to identify toy preferences, which usually appear remarkably early in life and enhance child play by availing the ideal surfaces or platforms upon which children can play.

kids learning though play

Helping Children Develop Creativity

Problem solving is one of the most fundamental skills that parents hope their children will develop. The ability to acknowledge an issue, develop a solution, and then put that solution into action will help kids do well in the classroom, on the sports field, and in the workroom. With this in mind, many school systems adopted the Common Core State Standards believing that the Common Core’s strong focus on science, math, and logical thinking would help to improve kids’ problem solving skills. Art, music, drama, and even creative writing and literature have taken a backseat to math drills; in many schools, the arts and humanities are hardly taught at all. However, despite rigorous testing (or perhaps because of it), our children’s problem solving skills have continued to plummet. This is because our children are not being encouraged to develop the most fundamental skill needed for problem solving. It wasn’t reasonable for Bill Gates to look at the PC and wonder how he could improve it, it wasn’t rational for Robert Kahn to wonder if it was possible to send information at instantaneous speeds across countries, and definitely was not logical for Benjamin Franklin to look at lightning and wonder if he could catch it with a kite. It was their creativity that made them great, and if we want our children to have a chance at greatness later, we need to foster their creativity now.

Many people assume that children don’t need to be taught creativity because they are just naturally imaginative. Although that may be true for some children, most kids need a bit of a boost in order to fully access their creative potential. As children grow older, especially, they rely less on their creativity due to the pressure to fit in. We cannot rely on schools to teach or encourage creativity either. As educational expert and author of several books about fostering childhood creativity Leslie Wilson eloquently stated: “It is perhaps irenic that within our culture we insist that we place such a value on creativity and then blatantly try to steal it away from our children in the contexts of their educational experiences.” Since No Child Left Behind maintains a narrow definition of what successful schools look like, children as early as kindergarten are often exposed to multiple-choice tests every two weeks. These tests may measure a child’s memorization of facts, but do nothing to evaluate his or creative talents. Sadly, since imagination is not tested, schools often reduce or eliminate those programs that help to develop it.

baby playing with toys

Creativity not only makes life more fun, it encourages thinking in new and unique ways that can change the world. All of society’s greatest inventions were developed by people who were able to imagine the impossible and find ways to make it happen. Thomas Edison, for example, imagined a world where people could have bright, consistent lighting and then imagined over 1,000 different ways to make it happen. Logic should have told him to stop after the 4th, or 5th, or 900th failure; creativity told him to persevere. Creativity is more than just an academic or artistic skill; it can be used to greatly improve the quality of life for children who suffer from chronic pain. In a 2009 study from Duke University, children with chronic abdominal pain were taught to use creative guided imagery in addition to standardized treatments. Children who used the imagery decreased their pain level approximately three times more than children who were only using traditional treatment. Their imaginations were able to literally cure their bodies.

Since creativity is such a vital skill to our society, and our children, it is important that parents take initiative to develop their child’s imagination. There are a variety of ways to accomplish this, one of the easiest being taking the time to play with them. There are many toys on the market that encourage imaginative play and parents can join in these games with their children. Perhaps, adding a little imagination into our own lives will do more than let us be role models for our children; we might find it improves our quality of life as well.