Creative play is an important factor where academic development is concerned.
This is according to Dr Janine Spencer, a development psychologist at Brunel University, who noted that creative play is different from taking part in organised extra-curricular activities.
"Creative play is when children do what they want in terms of play. It could be bubble play, painting or playing in the sandpit. The best time of the day for a child to play is in the bath," she explained.
"Without messy, creative play, children don't develop in the same way that children that do these activities do. When you are engaged in creative play, you are using different aspects of the brain. You are learning about problem solving and decision making. These are all skills that you are going to need when you go in the classroom."
Dr Spencer noted that creative or messy play is extremely beneficial for the brain.
"It is really use it or lose it. When we allow our children to do creative play it has been found that you develop more neurons, more connections in the brain, which is very important for education," she commented.
Dr Spencer pointed out that creative play can also help to strengthen bonds between parents and children.
She claimed that many children take part in so many organised activities, such as ballet or karate, that they have no time to use their imagination and play in a creative way.
"Children who have a chance to play do better academically. Children who only have academic activities do poorer in the long term when they get to university," Dr Spencer said.
She added that the fun parents have with their children while making a mess will be remembered long after the mess has been cleaned up.
Posted by Katy Kearns