Active Play Boosts Brain Power

Rolling down hills actually wires the brain to learn.  Active play gives the brain a boost!

The sounds of giddy laughter ring out on this beautiful spring day!  We applied ourselves to getting the house straightened up and finishing ‘seat-work’ so that we could head out to the park.  Talk about sweet motivation!  And I get to return to a peaceful home to boot!

As I watch my children race around and play (and make sure Greta doesn’t hurl herself over the edge of the climbing structure), I’m struck afresh with the power of good ol’ fashion outdoor rough and tumble play.  You can see them unwind and just come alive.  And yet, schools across the country are cutting recess and oftentimes neighborhood parks sit empty as kids are busy indoors with homework or playing video games…

Active play promotes brain development!  It's not just fun, it is FUNdamental! {Day 5 of Boosting Brain Power}

Children need time for active play.  It is not only fun, it is FUNdamental for their physical, emotional and yes – their MENTAL wellbeing. 

As I wrote about yesterday, MOVEMENT is so key to turning the brain ON to learning.  It activates so many parts of their brains.

When my little guy is hanging upside down from a tree branch, he is activating his vestibular system.  The vestibular system {housed in the inner ear} not only helps our body maintain balance, but it is considered the entryway to the brain for all of the senses.  This is an important entry point and having it working in peak capacity is beneficial in so many ways as millions of messages are relayed through this system into our brains throughout the day.   So yes, next time you see your child turning summersaults, rolling down hills or hanging upside down from the monkey bars know that their little brains are getting a kick-start in wiring to learn!

When our children brachiate on the monkey bars, skip, hop, jump or do that funny walking along the curb thing {one foot up, one foot in the gutter}, their brains are busy growing.  Bilateral integration occurs as they learn to coordinate both sides of their body.  What looks like simple, ordinary outdoor play is preparing their brains to read, write, reason and so much more.

When I was preparing to speak last year on the topic of movement and brain development, I checked out the book, The Art of Rough Housing.  It gives a great defense for this disappearing past-time.  My husband was incredulous that I could possibly need a book on the topic. While I claimed it was purely research, I was secretly also looking for ideas and inspiration myself.   It gave me fresh appreciation for my husband because this whole ‘rough housing’ thing tends to be an area where dads excel!  When they rough house with the kids, you know those times when you frantically run around the house to secure ‘breakables’, it is not only a fun bonding time between dad and the kids, but it also is a fabulous way to stimulate the vestibular system.  So maybe we can encourage our hubby’s to move that wrestle time to the morning before he heads to work so that our kids will be all primed and ready for school work that day! 🙂

So as we head into the weekend, get OUTSIDE.  Embrace rough and tumble play, knowing that it helps promote a healthy childhood!

For those of you with kids under 5, the book, Active Baby, Healthy Brain provides some fun, easy ideas to promote more of this active play. These ideas are especially nice for those home-bound times. It also gives fresh appreciation for all of the physical developmental stages that our young children go through. There is a reason for them!

10 day series on boosting brain power at

Day 1: Boosting Brain Power Starts with Food and Water

Day 2: How Sleep Makes Us Smarter

Day 3: Exercise Boosts Brain Power

Day 4: Why Movement Matters

*affiliate links may be used



  1. Christine Miller says:

    This stuff is so good! I have never heard it addressed!! I always thought the reason why I should not inhibit my husband rough-housing with our boys was because they needed that to become healthy, manly men! Most of the rough housing that happened to me growing up was tickling, which was excruciating, so I fear my little girl did not get much rough housing. I see also from what you’ve written how good it is for babies to be bounced and swung and safely thrown up in the air!

  2. terrie bee says:

    Just bought the book Minds-in -Motion. Same concepts! This is all new to me but heard it from several speakers at the Cin. homeschool conference. My son is adhd and hopefully this will help


  1. […] is the key to turning our children ON to learning.  Friday, I wrote about how active, rough and tumble play contributes to wiring the brain to […]

  2. […] Day 5: Active Play Boosts Brain Power […]

  3. […] Day 5: Active Play Boosts Brain Power […]

  4. […] in the morning.  You read that right.  Rough housing with the kids is an amazing way to help prime the pump and wire their brains to learn.  Those moments when you think you are just having fun…  They serve an unseen academic […]

  5. […] It wires the brain to learn! […]