What is Play and Why Does it Matter?
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.
- Read “Brain Research” (p. 10) in The Wisdom of Play: How Children Learn to Make Sense of the World by Community Playthings (~1 minute read)
- Read “Play and Development” (pp. 8-9) in The Power of Play: A Research Summary on Play and Learning by Dr. Rachel E. White for Minnesota Children’s Museum (~4 minute read)
- Read pp. 33-39 from the New Hampshire Early Learning Standards (~10 minute read)
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.
- Key Aspects of Play in Early Education by Amanda Armstrong (~ 5 minute read)
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.
- The Case of Brain Science and Guided Play: A Developing Story by Brenna Hassinger-Das, Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, and Roberta Michnick Golinkoff (~15 minute read)
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.
- Scientists Say Child’s Play Helps Build a Better Brain by Jon Hamilton (~ 6 minute read)
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.
- How Play is Learning by Defending the Early Years (~2 minutes)
In this video, several early childhood teachers share their thoughts about the importance of play to young children’s learning.
- The Role of Play in Any Setting by Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University (~8 minutes)
In this video, experts from early childhood highlight how play supports key aspects of children’s development.
- Building Babies’ Brains Through Play: Mini Parenting Master Class by Jack P. Shonkoff (~5 minutes)
In this video, Shonkoff discusses the importance of play interactions of care givers and infants.