The Social, Emotional, and Intellectual Benefits of Play 

When children are happily at play in a kindergarten there is a wonderful hum in the room.  A deep sense of well being emanates from the children. This should be reason enough to foster and protect play, but research also points to a number of important gains linked to a child’s ability to engage in healthy, creative play. Sara Smilansky, an Israeli researcher, studied children at play in Israel and the United States. She defines dramatic play as taking place when a child pretends to be someone else and sociodramatic play as those times when two or more children cooperate in such role–playing. She summarizes her research as follows: “The results point to dramatic and sociodramatic play as a strong medium for the development of cognitive and socioemotional skills.”

Here is summary of the gains she found directly linked to a child’s ability to engage in dramatic and sociodramatic play:

  • Gains in Cognitive-Creative Activities
  • Better verbalization
  • Richer vocabulary
  • Higher language comprehension
  • Higher language level
  • Better problem-solving strategies
  • More curiosity
  • Better ability to take on the perspective of another
  • Higher intellectual competence
  • Gains in Socioemotional Activities
  • More playing with peers
  • More group activity
  • Better peer cooperation
  • Reduced aggression
  • Better ability to take on the perspective of others
  • More empathy
  • Better control of impulsive actions
  • Better prediction of others’ preferences and desires
  • Better emotional and social adjustment
  • More innovation
  • More imaginativeness
  • Longer attention span
  • Greater attention ability
  • Performance of more conservation tasks

Read more of Joan Almon’s article: The Vital Role of Play in Childhood Click Here



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