What is Play and Why Does it Matter?

Ch. 2 Play’s Connection to Learning, Development, and the Brain

Two children building a snowperson

READ FIRST– Read the selections below to start thinking about early learning, children’s development, and how brain research informs our understanding of the importance of play during the early years.

CHOOSE ONE– Select at least one of the articles below to deepen your understanding of the importance of play to children’s learning and development.

In this article from Edutopia, Armstrong shares the importance of supporting play as a teacher of young children by thinking about your personal play perspective and how this might influence the ways you engage children in play.

In this article from NAEYC, Hassinger-Das, Hirsh-Pasek, and Golinkoff share play scenarios from early childhood classrooms that illustrate key points about brain science and the importance of guided play.

In this piece from National Public Radio (NPR), Hamilton highlights research from Neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp. Panksepp’s work focuses on how rats play and potential links to children’s play.

CHOOSE ONE– Select at least one of the videos below to watch to learn from experts from the field about why play supports children’s development and learning.

In this video,  several early childhood teachers share their thoughts about the importance of play to young children’s learning.

In this video, experts from early childhood highlight how play supports key aspects of children’s development.

In this video, Shonkoff discusses the importance of play interactions of care givers and infants.

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Play and Learning in Early Childhood Education Copyright © by Elisabeth Johnston is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.