Over the last decades the use of structured play has overwhelmed opportunities for “free” or make-believe play of children. Toys, sports, and video games have replaced the games of the imagination by and large. One psychologist, Elena Bodrova at Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning, has suggested that this change is responsible for a decrease in the self-regulation and attentional abilities of kids. She explains it in terms of language.
Make-believe play requires a level of interaction, creativity and language that doesn’t usually exist when a child plays a board game or video game with a peer. Dr. Bodrova suggests this imaginative play increases the child’s ability to self-direct their activity, take responsibility, and communicate well with others. As a result, children with more play time that is unstructured and not imposed with rules allows the child to develop these key skills that they need for later in school.
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