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Play and Brain Development

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Laura Erickson

on 14 December 2013

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Transcript of Play and Brain Development

Play and Brain Development
by Laura Erickson, EDCI 505
How does play affect children's brain development?
For more information...
Start early. Early childhood is the most formative period for brain development.
Read to children, sing with children, and play games with children. Do this every day.
Encourage parents to play with kids. Infants need secure attachment or bonding with parents.
Be positive, playful, warm, and nurturing.
Pay attention to moral development. Teach taking turns, sharing objects, and listening to others.
Encourage children to play with other children. This is important for developing social skills: friendships, sharing, negotiating, problem solving, concern for others, and morals.
Challenge children. They are far more capable than commonly realized, and adults are far more important in their development than generally acknowledged.
Talk to children. Expand children's vocabulary as they develop. For positive results, language needs to be in a positive emotional context.
Introduce music and art early. Substitute play, art, and music for television watching.
Provide blocks, beads, sand, water, simple tools, pots and pans, dress-up clothes, and other simple materials at age-appropriate times.
Protect students from stress and trauma including scolding, loud noises, isolation, and physical and emotional abuse. The brain is acutely vulnerable to stress and trauma and the consequences of extended exposure on brain development are permanent.
The Developing Brain in Young Children
Birth to Age 2--Four critical areas of development
: Healthy emotional attachment during a child's first 24 moths helps develop the social and emotional skills fundamental for life.
Sensory Motor Development
: Seeing, hearing, and movement develop through exploration during the first two years of life.
Auditory Development:
An infant's auditory system matures toward adult levels in range of sounds heard, ability to discriminate among sounds, and ability to distinguish sounds from one another.
Vision develops largely during the first year with the density of synapses in the visual system reaching a peak at 10 months.
Ages 2 to 5--Three fronts of development
Prepping for Academics:
The brain's neural networks require a variety of life experiences during the time of rapid growth. Children should have plenty of free, creative, exploratory playtime.
Emotional and Social Skills:
Children can follow simple directions, complete simple tasks, show some understanding of moral reasoning, and develop interest and friendships with other children.
Children this age need vitamins, fat, protein, iron, and water to support optimal brain function and development.
Types of play that foster brain development
Exercise play-aerobics, running, chasing, dance
Rough-and-tumble play: soccer, football, wrestling
Solitary play: doing puzzles, object manipulation
Outdoor activities: digging, observing insects
Stand and stretch activities: tai chi, yoga
Group or team competitive games: relays, cheerleading
Constructive play: building with blocks, model building
Exploratory play: hide and seek, scavenger hunt, make-believe
Functional play: practicing a new skill
Individual competitive games: track and field, hopscotch
Adventure play: ropes courses, trust walks
Both neuro-scientists and pay scholars agree that all healthy young mammals play. Infant animals and humans engage in playful games at an early age. Play is encouraged and mediated by adults, and play acts as a scaffolding for development.
The range and complexity of play quickly increase as neurons start hardwiring connections as a remarkable rate. Play helps develop neural structures, and these increasingly complex neural structures influence even more complex play.
The early games of children equip them for skills they will need later in life. They are able to practice motor, language, and negotiation skills.
Play is essential for healthy development. Early childhood experiences exert a dramatic impact on the wiring of the neural circuits. The formation and pruning on synapses coincides with the emergence of various developmental abilities. During the first years of life, it is playful activity, not direct instruction, that makes a positive difference in brain development and subsequent human functioning.
Frost, J. (1998).
Neuroscience, play, and child development
. Retrieved
from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED427845.pdf

Jensen, E. (2005).
Teaching with the brain in mind
. Alexandra, VA: ASCD.
Frost, J. (1998).
Neuroscience, play, and child development
. Retrieved
from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED427845.pdf
How can teachers foster brain development through play?
The statement on the importance of play from the National Association for the Education of Young Children
Article entitled
Why is Play Important? Cognitive Development, Language Development, Literacy Development
The Role of Play in the Overly-Academic Classroom
Marcy Guddemi, Ph.D., MBA
Building Brains-Brain Development and Play
Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul
by Stuart Brown, M.C.
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