Guest Blogger Deborah McNelis

The first day of school is fast approaching. Often the start of school means it is time to sit down, pull out the pencils and learn! School is important and learning is good for the brain. But get this, play is also very good for the development of the brain. Whether children are running in the backyard or discovering a new game on the school playground, the brain benefits. Today’s guest blog on the value of play, comes from brain development specialist, Deborah McNelis.

Play, laughter and time outdoors–what a combination this is! Unfortunately is it is not widely known that play is the way the brain learns best. Let’s change that!

When a child is moving, is using several senses, is exploring, or tries things out in various ways, brain cells are changing and learning is taking place. A child needs to participate in activities not just watch. Research demonstrates more active brain activity during play as opposed to passive observation. The brain also needs trial and error and a lot of repetition in fun and interesting ways. All of this is provided through play.

Play also provides the opportunity to learn to get along with other people. When children play with parents or other children a lot is learned about how relationships work. This social interaction through play allows children to develop skills for self regulation. In addition, playing with others can lead to laughter.

Laughter is wonderful for the brain. Play and laughter activates the caring and thinking areas of the brain. Laughing lightens our mood through reducing the level of stress hormones affecting the brain. It provides a physical and emotional release. Laughter can also lead to creating closer connections with other people. Laughter is also contagious so we can share this beneficial brain activity with others when we are laughing.

Physical play additionally provides many benefits to the brain. It first of all simply increases the amount of oxygen to the brain. Research also indicates that safe rough and tumble play can positively influence the activity in the thinking part of the brain. Numerous studies show that providing physical activity during the school day is correlated with improved academic performance.

If play takes place outdoors there are even more advantages. Natural environments have a very positive effect on the brain. Unstructured time in a natural setting provides invaluable opportunities for learning that workbooks, flashcards, or electronic devices can never offer.

Brain development isn’t complicated. Children simply need adults to understand the brain learns best through positive, safe, and fun interactive experiences. Adult brains benefit also …. so, get outdoors, have fun, play, and laugh together!

To get easy play ideas to have right in your pocket you can go to: braininsights

Deborah McNelis, M.S. Ed. is an Early Brain Development Specialist and owner of Brain Insights. Deborah is the award winning author of The Brain Development Series. She has been seen in several publications and receives rave reviews for her presentations throughout the country. Deborah is overjoyed with the response to her company, braininsights® due to her passion to create awareness of the importance of the early years. Her goal through this work is for everyone to gain an understanding of early brain development, its impact, and the ways we can all easily make a difference.

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