“Self-regulation is a critical skill for kids. Unfortunately, most kids today spend a lot of time doing three things: watching television, playing video games and taking lessons. None of these activities promote self-regulation.”
– Alix Spiegel
Unplug Your Kids has a very interesting post about an NPR article and interview. In this NPR article, Alix Spiegel describes how creative play is essential for the development of self-regulation and “executive function”.
Here’s a quote from this article:
It turns out that all that time spent playing make-believe actually helped children develop a critical cognitive skill called executive function. Executive function has a number of different elements, but a central one is the ability to self-regulate. Kids with good self-regulation are able to control their emotions and behavior, resist impulses, and exert self-control and discipline.
We know that children’s capacity for self-regulation has diminished. A recent study replicated a study of self-regulation first done in the late 1940s, in which psychological researchers asked kids ages 3, 5 and 7 to do a number of exercises. One of those exercises included standing perfectly still without moving. The 3-year-olds couldn’t stand still at all, the 5-year-olds could do it for about three minutes, and the 7-year-olds could stand pretty much as long as the researchers asked. In 2001, researchers repeated this experiment. But, psychologist Elena Bodrova at the National Institute for Early Education Research says, the results were very different.
Today’s 5-year-olds were acting at the level of 3-year-olds 60 years ago, and today’s 7-year-olds were barely approaching the level of a 5-year-old 60 years ago,” Bodrova explains. “So the results were very sad.”
“Sad because self-regulation is incredibly important. Poor executive function is associated with high dropout rates, drug use and crime. In fact, good executive function is a better predictor of success in school than a child’s IQ. Children who are able to manage their feelings and pay attention are better able to learn. As executive function researcher Laura Berk explains, “Self-regulation predicts effective development in virtually every domain.”
Alix Spiegel then goes on to explain why it is that researchers believe that it is creative play that is crucial to the development of self-regulation and “executive function”.
For more on the importance of self-regulation see:
Self-Discipline May Beat Smarts as Key to Success – Washington Post
High IQ: Not as good for you as you thought – Cognitive Daily
Does TV displace Creative Play?
Well as a matter of fact is does:
“The results also showed that for seven- to 12-year-olds, the more TV they watched, the less time they spent doing homework, and among kids of all ages — especially among those younger than five — more TV meant significantly less creative play.”
Update I: Fairies and Philosophy about CSS Parenting
Update II: Creative Play Makes for Kids in Control about Tools of the Mind
Update III: The Serious Need for Play from Scientific American