Young children’s brains are built for play

Each day during the Week of the Young Child, Connecticut’s Early Childhood Alliance and the Connecticut Association for the Education of Young Children have sent out information about different ways to support children’s growth and development. Today’s message especially resonated with us, as it emphasizes the enormous importance of play:

Play and Learning are Not Separate Activities for Young Children

Play is one of the most important ways a young child learns. Games, outdoor exploration, and make believe are just some of the types of play ideal for learning at home and at school.

In the early years, the brain is practically built for imaginative play. Until about 7 or 8 years old, the young brain is not wired for logical thinking.

One of the early pioneers of human development, Swiss scientist Jean Piaget, found that play is vitally related to cognitive development as it helps children construct knowledge and make sense of their world. If you’ve watched young children engaging in imaginative play such as “restaurant,” you know this is true. They put on a uniform, take orders, cook and serve the food, and work the cash register. As they do this, they are building a greater understanding of the world around them. They are also increasing their vocabulary, honing motor skills, practicing counting, and working with others.

Imaginative play does not have to cost anything. Pull out some old hats and clothes watch a transformation happen. Cups, water, and a doll can be a fancy tea party. A veterinary clinic can be made with a few stuffed animals.

The bottom line . . . make lots of time for play! Play simple games, play outside, and try some make believe fun. All this play is a great way to learn and have fun at the same time.”

This Week of the Young Child message is brought to you by the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance and the Connecticut Association for the Education for Young Children.  Our organizations urge you to use your voice to support children and promote the importance of early childhood.  Please share these daily messages with your friends and colleagues.

What was your favorite kind of imaginative play when you were a child, or what did your own children enjoy? What type of everyday objects became sources of fun, magic, and learning?

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