Play—or fun, imaginative, relaxed, and self-directed activities—is a key part of life for children and adults alike. Play tends to be self-chosen, removed in some way from “real” life, and governed by a set of rules determined by the players, rather than an outside source. Play has myriad payoffs and is more common in children than adults; however, adults can and do play, often to their own benefit.
The Importance of Play Liderina/Shutterstock Free play is a natural part of development for both humans and animals. In humans, it is especially critical for children, as it is thought to bolster their social and emotional growth and provide them a means to learn as they explore the world. For both children and adults, play can be used as a reward, an educational tool, or a means to motivate someone to complete necessary tasks. Studies show that children who are given short play breaks during their days at school return to the classroom with more focus and increased ability to pay attention and learn. Playing, especially when unstructured, stimulates mental flexibility and creativity.
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