Pretend play has many physical benefits. Play is a fantastic way for children to exercise and get their body moving. Whether their imagination takes them to a royal ball, safari adventure, or camping trip, they are staying active and moving around their play space.
There are more subtle, but intricate physical benefits embedded in playtime too. Children develop fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination and bilateral coordination during their imaginative charades. A child is having too much fun to see the valuable skills they grasp during playtime, but as parents, it is important to perceive play through a more meaningful lens.
Fine motor skills involve movements that use the small muscles in the hands or wrists. Children use fine motor skills to stack and maneuver play pieces, and to accessorize their little Maileg characters. They are dressing, tucking, lifting, rocking, and hugging their tiny friends. All of this requires those little hands and fingers to do intricate work. The simple act of a child sliding open their mouse in matchbox takes significant fine motor effort. When they use their hands in this controlled fashion, they directly benefit their ability to accomplish other skills, such as drawing, brushing their teeth or zipping up a jacket.
Hand-eye coordination is intertwined with many playtime activities. Any task that requires the eyes and hands to work in unison, improves this coordination skill. Activities such as fitting a Maileg animal’s arm through it’s jacket sleeves are great for hand-eye coordination, as is learning to move and control the toy’s hands in different ways. Seemingly effortless moments like flying your Maileg friend through the sky requires the hands and eyes to move simultaneously in the same direction. Then, there are more complicated tasks like taking off a mouse’s outfit to change it into in the new ballet costume you are oh so excited about.
Bilateral coordination is another wonderful milestone refined during playtime. Children utilize bilateral coordination when they use both sides of their body in a controlled and organized manner. For example, when a child moves their Maileg character’s arms as if the animal is clapping it’s hands, the child is using both sides of their body to accomplish this pretend play scenario. Or, if a child throws their toy in the air and catches it, they are using bilateral coordination. These normal, playtime rituals may seem elementary, but they lay the groundwork for future advancements such as writing or riding a bike.
Think about when your child plays with their toys. They probably use all these skills throughout their storytelling adventures just about every time. Play becomes a precious sentiment when you know your child is learning, growing and taking huge steps in their developmental journey.