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"Life must be lived as play" – Plato

Play Quote


That insightful quote is above the huge chalk board that is delightfully always full of drawings and is next to our big basket of stuffed animals and toys we have in the practice. Sometimes it’s hard for kids to leave because they want to keep playing! Although, that may cut into your schedule, it’s beneficial neurologically for kids to play.

As the first month of school is underway, I’ve been hearing from kids that school is starting to get boring since the excitement of new teachers, new friends and new activities are fading and the routine of school and life is becoming the norm. A way to change this pattern is to allow your children to play! Yes, simple free play is a great way to keep your child engaged and interested in school!

Dr. Jennifer Floreani, author of Ticklish states that “your child has an innate desire to learn, to explore and discover”. Allow kids to explore and play; that is where real, lasting learning takes place due to the synapses that are connecting and building neural circuits and developmental milestones. Imaginative free play is especially important because it nurtures creativity which will be transformed into creative and critical thinking in their teenage and adult years.

When kids are interested and engaged in their learning they are intrinsically motivated which means that they are motivated to do the task for the satisfaction of doing the task alone. On the contrast, extrinsic motivation is when kids are motivated to do something because they are either getting a reward (an A grade) or avoiding a punishment (a timeout). The goal of education is to establish lifelong learners; do you think that is better done by intrinsically motivating kids or extrinsically motivating them? If you said intrinsically, I would agree. However, that is not always the case, which is not the schools fault; it is just unfortunately how the system is set up in many schools.

Make learning fun by playing and actively engaging about things that your kids are innately interested in fosters intrinsic motivation and allows for strong, neural networks to be formed in their brains. For example, let’s say your child loves hockey and can study hockey for hours on end. Doesn’t it amaze you that they can recite every single fact and stat about the Minnesota Wild but yet can’t remember what they went over in school that day? That is because they are intrinsically motivated to learn about the Minnesota Wild; they get rewarded by learning about it alone. Making other subjects that would typically need extrinsic motivation fun and playful is a great way to keep your child engaged and enjoying school! Also, taking breaks to color, stretch and doing light activity is another way to help your child stay focused and positive while doing homework!

Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions you may have or if you want more tips on how to help your child learn and grow those neural connections within their brain; that is what we thrive at here at Peak Potential Family Chiropractic!

Dr. Julia Anderson

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