A play-based education is not only more responsive and developmentally appropriate for young children, but it also teaches them not only how to answer, but how to think. Not just to recite, but to inquire. Not simply to complete worksheets, but to build connections. Academic content isn’t just taught, it’s meaningfully constructed. Parents sometimes feel that academic skills are taught separately from play time. Research supports that through play children learn necessary skills and concepts that are both academic in nature (i.e. how many blocks would it take to build a road?) and social.
Neuroscience and Play
“You hold your newborn so his sky-blue eyes are just inches from the brightly patterned wallpaper. ZZZT: a neuron from his retina makes an electrical connection with one in his brain’s visual cortex. You gently touch his palm with a clothespin; he grasps it, drops it, and you return it to him with soft words and a smile. CRACKLE: neurons from his hand strengthen their connection to those in his sensory-motor cortex. He cries in the night; you feed him, holding his gaze because nature has seen to it that the distance from a parent’s crooked elbow to his eyes exactly matches the distance at which a baby focuses. ZAP: neurons in the brain’s amygdala send pulses of electricity through the circuits that control emotion. You hold him on your lap and talk…and neurons from his ears start hard-wiring connections to the auditory cortex. And you thought you were just playing with your kid” – Newsweek, Sharon Begley, 1996