How play can boost academic outcomes


Child playing in leaves

For children, play time and the arts are easy companions. After all, their time spent in creative play naturally evokes the competencies of the dramatic arts; the dramatic arts are themselves, in turn, quite playful and spirited, creating an apt fit with the enthusiasm and curiosity of childhood.

Time spent in independent, unprompted free play often leads to the use of imagination and pretending, as children tell stories and set scenes. In fact, creative free play and creative education share quite a few tandem benefits; some of the most noteworthy include boosts in self esteem, empathy, and coping skills.

The social and emotional benefits of free play are numerous, and they’re joined by improvements in academic outcomes that shouldn’t be overlooked. Here are some of the ways that time spent at play can improve their scholastic outlook:

  • Adjustment is easier: When children are given the opportunity to engage in social free play with their peers, making the transition into their school years is easier, and learning readiness may be enhanced.
  • It’s easier to conceptualize and use intuition: Use of intuition and the ability to visualize and focus on new concepts is made easier through experience, which is something children develop when they engage in self-prompted playtime.
  • Their cognitive performance is boosted: Recess is a particularly important period of free play for children in terms of academic success; the brief reprieve from learning and time spent in creative play with friends can improve their behavior in class, help them pay closer attention, and offer an overall boost to their cognitive abilities.
  • Stress and anxiety are relieved: Stress and anxiety are troublesome emotions that can interfere with optimum performance at any age, but they’re especially common in children, especially when facing new life experiences like entry into school, a new school year, new classes, and new kids to meet. When kids have the opportunity to play with peers on their own, they become more adept at managing these feelings and more able to handle day-to-day triggers without shutting down.


A higher level of preparedness for future challenges, stronger bond with parents, and reduction in phobias are also on the list of ways that children benefit from free play, and each are adjacent to improved academic outcomes. The list of free-play positives goes on, and this handy infographic from Muddy Smiles makes it easy to learn more; give it a read.


13 Jul 2020

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