Why your kid should be playing right now.

Play teaches social skills and boosts brainpower in both animals and children—and might help kids deal with the pandemic.

When the pandemic hit, Katie Raspa felt stuck. So in July, the former early childhood educator and her husband loaded up their daughters into their AirStream trailer and set out on a cross-country road trip. The Maryland couple’s mission was to give eight-year-old Imogene and six-year-old Caroline an opportunity for play.

“People kind of forget that children are supposed to play,” Raspa says. “It helps them learn really critical skills like creativity, flexibility, and cooperation.”

Anyone who tries to tell you that play is frivolous is wrong. It’s an important behavior that humans and many other species of animals evolved to help them learn new skills and prepare for adulthood. Play helps strengthen kinship bonds and friendships, and helps kids become better communicators. Play can even boost brain health as well, particularly when it makes us laugh since laughing releases feel-good endorphins. It can also help kids become better communicators and kinder friends.

Read This Next

Help kids breathe in some mental goodness with aromatherapy
Screen time is up—here's how to refocus on reading
Bringing out the genius in your child