Play promotes cognitive flexibility

Diamond talks about play promoting cognitive flexibility in “Q&A: The Best Kind of Play for Kids“.

Organizing play for kids has never seemed like more work. But researchers Adele Diamond and Deborah Leong have good news: The best kind of play costs nothing and really only has one main requirement — imagination. Here, they answer your questions about play.


Imaginative play creates structure

On “Old-Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills“:

Elaborate toys, busy schedules and the demise of recess have left children with fewer opportunities for imaginative play — and it shows. Researchers say changing the way children play has changed their emotional and cognitive development.

Open-ended, imaginative play helps children develop self-regulatory skills crucial for impulse control, the capacity for delayed gratification, and self-discipline.

The idea of an unstructured environment being better for developing structured thinking reminds me of the riddle about the town with two barbers, one neatly and one sloppily coiffed. Just because it looks like what you want doesn’t mean it will produce what you want.