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As scientists learn more about how the brain works, they find extensive links between movement and learning. No wonder kids move so much!

For example, some research has revealed that gesturing and pantomiming speed up the process of learning to talk. They also stimulate intellectual development, enhance self-esteem, and strengthen the bond between parent and infant. Think of your baby waving good-bye or shaking his or her head “no” before having the ability to speak the words.

Other research continues to confirm the importance of play in relation to learning. Play is a child’s work, and it requires some form of physical movement. Play helps children learn new skills and develop social relationship abilities. Children develop a sense of mastery as they play while learning to enjoy interactions with others, including a sense of sharing. The interactive competition for toys, disagreements with friends and school peers, and development of new friendships together form the foundation for skills needed later in life for adult socialization. Play provides a hands-on way for children to learn fundamental skills, concepts, and principles that will be a base for developing academic skills as well. This learning especially happens when children have a chance to lead during play with parents who provide esteem-building emotional support for achievements.

Make time to play and move with your child as he or she leads. Enjoy the connection and the learning that will take place.