Everything Starts With Play: Why Play Matters for Kids

May 10, 2024

by Liz Holden Boatwright

As the end of the school year approaches, many parents wonder how to continue their kids’ enrichment and learning over the summer. Among all the possibilities of summer camps and lessons, there’s one simple, low-cost ingredient that is sometimes overlooked but is incredibly important: play. The North Shore Children’s Museum in Peabody offers things to do for kids with creative and imaginative play that enhances emotional and intellectual growth and development.

Why is play important for kids?

Everything starts with play. For young children, play is a way of learning and making connections about the world and how it works. When kids engage in imaginative play, they’re often “practicing” the behaviors they see performed by adults. It’s a low-stakes way for kids to engage with adults and with each other, building important social connections. They learn to share, to compromise, and to resolve conflicts. For mental health, these benefits are incredibly important; play has been found to decrease stress and depression levels in children.

Scientific research has found that, in young children, play helps to build the connections that develop certain areas of the brain. Other studies have found that kids who play more at a young age actually perform better in school when they’re older. They have higher levels of executive function and are better able to pay attention in school.

Play makes learning fun and enhances curiosity – a quality that’s important to foster throughout life. High levels of curiosity have been found to lead to better academic performance and deeper enjoyment of school. In the business world, curiosity is increasingly recognized as an important quality in successful, resilient leaders.


Play at the North Shore Children’s Museum

The North Shore Children’s Museum offers many opportunities for unstructured play. Our Storytelling, Doctor’s Office, Bank, and Farm to Table exhibits provide space for imaginative play, allowing kids to interact with each other while acting out imaginary scenarios. In the Makerspace, the STEM Lab, and the Gross Motor Room, children are provided tools for imaginative building and creation. The Museum is designed as a space where kids can immerse themselves in play, connect with others, and learn new ideas – all while having fun.

And the Museum is for everyone. We have deals with more than 22 local libraries on the North Shore of Massachusetts, which offer 50% off tickets. On Thursday afternoons in May, we’re also offering half-price admission to all visitors. Keep an eye out for more deals during the summer!


Read More About the Power of Play

The Power of Play: A Pediatric Role in Enhancing Development in Young Children – American Academy of Pediatrics

The Business Case for Curiosity – Harvard Business Review

Play Science: What We Know So Far – The National Institute of Play