Intellectual Benefits

While, for participants, the numerous benefits of skill-play fall into many categories, perhaps the most notable are the intellectual benefits.

Intellectual abilities developed through skill-play have far-reaching applications, especially in literacy, cognition, psychology and academic skills. Skill-play incorporates and develops fundamental cognitive capacities, such as critical analysis, conceptualising models, spatial awareness and understanding of patterns, rhythm and sequencing. The wider application of these allows for development of scientific and mathematical analysis skills. Participants of all learning styles, strengths, and intellects can achieve these benefits, incorporating verbal, spatial, musical, kinaesthetic, intrapersonal and interpersonal learning. In terms of direct academic benefits, skill-play relies on and develops such core academic virtues as concentration, patience, goal management and perseverance.

For example, skill-play directly encourages students to concentrate on specific tasks,a benefit that carries through to improved concentration in other subjects. Participants also employ patience and persistence in skill-play training, as gratification and progress is incremental and dependent upon the amount effort applied. Such perseverance is reinforced in students through “sticking at specific tasks”,whilst resilience is developed via natural mistakes from which students “bounce back”. Goal management is inherent in skill-play, students are required to understand and set goals in attaining discrete accomplishments. Reviewing these factors, it comes as no surprise that skill-play is associated with improvements in students’ general academic performance. Due to the volume and diversity of mental resources drawn upon in skill play, it also benefits specific subject areas including Music, Science, Art, Maths, Physical Education and Performing Arts.

Research has revealed that learning to use skilled juggling apparatus is linked to improvements in both handwriting and reading skills.These improvements are attributed to developments in “tracking”, that is, learning to track objects with the eyes, and in addition, the enhancement of fine motor skills. Other academic benefits include improvements in learning ability. For example, when we participate in energetic breaks of physical activity, “they return to academic tasks refreshed and will learn better as a result… like having a “right brain break in a left brain day,”a phenomenon easily utilised via skill-play activities. Learning ability is also fostered through the development of an appreciation for the processes involved with learning and teaching.

Skill-play reinforces the ability to deconstruct and reconstruct skills and activities, a part of logical categorisation and classification involved in learning. The practices of skill-play involve an understanding of the educative approach to each task, thus participants are developing skills, such as “learning to learn”. Consequentially learning how to teach and communicate reinforces the wide range of intellectual benefits provided by skill play. These benefits are continually reinforced with sustained practice; where skill-play is incorporated and sustained.