Mental Health Cognitive development: Why it is important for children to...

Cognitive development: Why it is important for children to play (both at home and at school)


Play is a fundamental part of a child’s development, as it is a way of experimenting and expressing oneself, of establishing contact with the outside world. That is why it is so important that adults encourage and respect children’s play both at home and at school.

Through play, the child can learn a great deal in school and outside of it, and play should not be dismissed as a superfluous activity or establish an opposition between serious school work and play, quite the opposite. Since play is so necessary in development, education must take advantage of it and make the most of it.

The child must feel that at school he is playing and through this game he will be able to learn a great many things”.

Music, plastic arts, literature, history, geography, chemistry, physics, theater, mathematics and poetry can be recreational activities.

There is a general attitude of not giving the game the importance it deserves, overly ranking the importance of schooling. It is time for the game to be placed in the hierarchical place that it deserves.


Play is the fundamental activity of the child. The child who has not been able to express himself through play will be an adult with a diminished creative and imaginative capacity, capacities that are enhanced as the possibility of play is expanded, through games, expressive, physical and sports activities. It is not just about providing toys, without more.

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  • Through the initial games, the baby builds his body and, as an important part of it, his nervous system. This construction mechanism is binary, it works by opposition and contrast, and its initial realization occurs through the exploration of textures, surfaces, consistencies and holes.

Baby’s first play objects are his own body, that of his mother, slime, food, pee, poop, hygiene items, clothing and any object within reach.

  • Play is the means of learning through which the child investigates, explores and discovers the world around him. Knowing the world, the child knows himself.
  • It is their means of expression, communication and conflict elaboration. Symbolically repeats pleasant and painful situations, externalizing them, putting them outside, and trying to dominate them through their activity.
  • The manipulation of materials and objects is a fundamental basis for the development of their logical and symbolic capacity.
  • Playing, in addition, the child begins in the roles that he will be able to play in the future.
  • The child has a spontaneous ability to create games, such as throwing things out of reach, covering himself with the sheet, hiding, putting objects in holes, opening and closing doors and boxes. The fact that we play with him, and incorporate language and song, allows him to enrich and strengthen the construction of his very important fantasy world.


The child’s play has more possibilities to the extent that he has learned to play with the parents. When a child asks for a toy, he is demanding affection. The toy can be substituted for the presence, love and attention of the parents, but that affection cannot be substituted for the toy. The best way to encourage and value a child’s play is by sharing the experience with him.

The child who has seen his games devalued runs the risk of being an adult who does not value himself. The patience that we put into encouraging, acknowledging and praising his efforts, good words, blessed words, help in that direction. Instead, reproaches, cursed words, scolding, teasing, nicknames, beatings and punishments lead to a masochistic construction, invaded with feelings of guilt, which will negatively weigh on the future life of that child.

Valuing the playful capacity of our child is to facilitate a more satisfying and rewarding adult activity.

The relationship with others, intellectual and learning capacity, imagination and creativity, restlessness and desire, physical and mental health, which are inseparable, will then be compromised. Depressive, anxiety or anguish states and pathological symptomatic manifestations usually coincide with deficiencies in the construction of that world of fantasies.

MindFixes Staff
MindFixes is dedicated to promoting mental health, preventing mental disorders and advocating, educating, and serving all people with mental and substance use conditions. MindFixes is determined to persevere, learn, grow, love and laugh through our wellness journey and we invite all to join.


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