Child development

The role of play in cognitive development

The Role of Play in Cognitive Development

Play has an important role in cognitive development in children and can result in increased focus and concentration, language skills, creativity and problem solving skills. High-quality play experiences foster positive brain and physical development, which helps children as they grow. Through play, children learn to explore, experiment and create.

Benefits of Play to Cognitive Development

  • Language Development – Playing games, conversing with adults and reading books are all ways to help children develop their language skills.
  • Cognitive Flexibility – When a child plays, they must consider different ways of looking at a problem and flexible ways to solve it.
  • Problem-Solving and Critical Thinking – Problem-solving and critical thinking skills are essential for children to develop, and play can help in these areas. Games that involve planning, following directions, and creating strategies help children to think more deeply.
  • Creative Thinking – Play allows children to express their imaginations and thus encourages creative thinking. Through play, children can experience and interact with their environment in a safe and non-threatening way.

Types of Play

There are several different types of play. These include:

  • Structured Play – This type of play involves adults organizing the play. It might involve set activities or instructions with specific goals.
  • Unstructured Play – Unstructured play involves children having freedom to explore and use their imaginations to create the play situation. It might include activities that involve movement, make-believe, or open-ended activities with no particular goal in mind.
  • Social Play – This type of play involves children working together in a cooperative way to reach a goal or explore a situation.


Play is a beneficial and important part of cognitive development in children. It allows them to express themselves, learn new skills, and explore their world. As adults, it is important to offer guidance and create game and play scenarios that foster growth and development in a safe, nurturing environment.

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