One of the findings of the research is that creative play helps regulate executive function:
Executive function has a number of elements, such as working memory and cognitive flexibility. But perhaps the most important is self-regulation â€” the ability for kids to control their emotions and behavior, resist impulses, and exert self-control and discipline. Executive function â€” and its self-regulation element â€” is important. Poor executive function is associated with high dropout rates, drug use and crime. In fact, good executive function is a better predictor of success in school than a child’s IQ.
The Tools of the Mind approach helps children move along a continuum “from being regulated by others to engaging in â€œsharedâ€ regulation to eventually becoming â€œmasters of their own behavior.â€” A large part of it is about not just going out to play, but rather writing out the plan and presenting what they’re going to do before then acting out the play part.
It’s one more pointer towards the importance and value of play, although it still gets tangled up in issues about media and videogames being ‘obviously bad’ and falls into the “play as progress” rhetoric that Brian Sutton-Smith cast so much doubt upon.
There’s also a related NPR story on play building serious skills that’s worth reading.
(Photo credit: wwworks on Flickr)