This is a partnered post.
While there’s nothing wrong with doing things for the purposes of fun alone, it’s also important to recognize that “play” can be done for a lot more than the purposes of having fun. It can also help your kids develop their cognitive abilities in a variety of ways. But some kinds of play are better at this than others, so what can you focus on to help your kids exercise their brains?
Crafts, crafts, and more crafts
There are a few things better for getting your kids to use those brains than sitting them down with some paper, safety scissors, coloring materials, and more. There are plenty of fun crafts you can get them involved in, each of them helping them build on their hand-eye coordination and laying the foundation of how different items relate to one another and interact. The purpose of play with a bigger long-term goal (the completed craft) can be helpful in developing their sense of delayed gratification, as well, even if it’s a very short-term version.
The importance of imagination
Creativity is a vital skill. We’re not just talking about how beneficial arts and crafts are, either. As your kids grow up, problems have to be solved creatively, so they have to be used to thinking creatively. Toys that encourage children to play pretend, such as dolls, costumes, and set pieces can help build that creativity, as well as help them get some experience of putting their mind in the shoes of others, teaching them the basics of empathy that can be so crucial to them as they begin to socialize, as well.
Tease that brain
Of course, as well as ways to indirectly get them thinking, you can also look at the ways to play that are very clearly all about getting them to think about solutions. Kids are more attracted to puzzles than you might think, whether it’s block puzzles for the really young or moving into things like fill in puzzles as they get older. Don’t be afraid to encourage your kid to grapple with some brain teasers. There is fun in working it out for themselves, as well as the sense of accomplishment when they make progress.
Don’t forget about unstructured play
While structured play can be useful to help your child develop in specific ways, you can’t ignore how vital unstructured play can be as well. Allowing your child to experiment with the world and, more importantly, in playing with others helps them learn about self-control, the boundaries of others, cooperation, and also help them get to grips with different kinds of play through imitation. That doesn’t mean that all play should be unstructured play, but it does mean that you shouldn’t worry that your child is playing without any kind of structure.
You don’t want to push too hard and turn play into education. However, kids can be motivated by the urge to exercise that brain themselves, so you might find you don’t have to force them much at all.