If you are the parent of a child under the age of 2, their pediatrician may have passed along a surprisingly new prescription at the last visit - more play time! Play is a fundamental part of children’s healthy development and The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) have focused research on its’ value. Their 2018 clinical report, The Power of Play: A Pediatric Role in Enhancing Development in Young Children, highlights details on the importance of play with both parents and peers, the link between play and learning, and play as an important buffer of toxic stress:
- In a study, 3- to 4-year-old children, anxious about entering preschool, were twice as relieved of their stress when allowed to play with teachers or peers for 15 minutes, compared to peers who listened to a teacher reading a story.
- Research also found preschool children with disruptive behaviors were less stressed and less disruptive when the teacher played with them regularly one-to-one over the course of a year, compared with peers who had routine interactions.
Beginning from birth there are a variety of ways that caregivers can use play to help their children achieve their developmental milestones. The AAP’s research is an important reminder to not underestimate the power of play and how accessible it is for all parents and children. For age appropriate play ideas check out the AAP sponsored website healthychildren.org