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Playtime is an important component of every child’s day. In addition to being fun, these periods of engagement are critical to kids’ long-term success. According to studies, nearly 80 percent of brain development is completed by the age of three. Those children who experience lack of play, or “understimulation,” in infancy may experience persistent academic, emotional, psychological and social consequences.

The good news? You don’t need to purchase expensive educational toys for your child to reap the benefits of play. Check out these three tips for maximizing playtime:

Keep it Simple: Play is one of the easiest opportunities to boost kids’ speech and language skills. Everyday activities like singing, playing peek-a-boo and reading books teach children about communication, problem solving, language development and verbal and nonverbal social skills (e.g., body language, turn-taking).

Build Imagination: Devising over-the-top or outlandish scenarios are actually children’s way of honing their skills. In fact, reports suggest kids who enjoy pretending often have more advanced social and cognitive abilities. The best part of “pretend play” is it’s free and can be done independently or with others. Similarly, imaginative craft projects such as drawing and painting can promote creativity, expression of feelings and fine motor skills.

Get moving: Active play like hide-and-seek or scavenger hunts boosts children’s balance, mobility and muscle development while promoting healthy lifestyle choices. Full-body activities also help reduce stress and enhance self-confidence.

Need more play tips you can use at home? Contact Kids for the Future’s therapists at 870-633-1737.