Cats do it, dogs do it, squirrels do it, even octopuses do it…and so do we…play! Besides improving health, lowering stress and just being plain fun, researchers now believe that play is hardwired deep in our brains and that it has a fundamental role in how we learn and socialize. Play acts to build pro-social brains, social brains that know how to interact with others in positive ways. According to Sergio Pellis, at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, lots of free play in childhood results in significant changes in the prefrontal cortex that help wire up the brain’s executive control center, which has a critical role in regulating emotions, making plans and solving problems. In other words, play is what prepares a young brain for life, love and even schoolwork. What’s more, countries where they actually have more recess tend to have higher academic performance than countries where recess is less. So, ‘go outside and play’ has never sounded better!
-Becky Brownlie (Enrollment & Outreach)