Why is play the highest form of research?

Did you know that play literally shapes our brains during the early years? This is because playing is learning. They are not mutually exclusive. There are an abundance of benefits for maintaining a daily foundation of ‘play’ during the early years, but one HUGE benefit that is often undervalued is the fact that ‘play’ has the ability to access the Cerebral Cortex; the area of our brains responsible for higher cognitive processes and functions. Presenting information to a child in a play setting allows them to move through the ladder of thinking. When new information is discovered, children can begin to remember key details, understand and discuss the associated facts and then apply their understanding in a relevant scenario (and a play setting is the perfect scenario!) But after children have mastered those cognitive skills within an area of interest, we then begin to see some of the more higher order thinking skills and processes emerging. They start to evaluate or critique something, make judgments about its use or suggest improvements or modifications that should be made. They may even start to vocalise a plan of how they will use this item next and start to test their ideas by using it in different ways. And finally, challenges they encounter along the way may be met with creative ideas and solutions, rather than road blocks. So when Einstein said that ‘Play is the highest form of research’ he really meant it. I encourage you to take the time to listen in and notice the actions, questions or self-talk your little one is presenting to you the next time they’re engaging in some beautiful play.

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