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Why Play is Essential for Brain Development in Early Childhood

Learning how to play is an integral part of children's early development. It is an essential tool for children that contributes to encouraging healthy habits and developing skills that they will use throughout their lives.

So, why is play so crucial for children to learn and embrace? Well, there are a few reasons as to why.

First, it is a support structure for the actual brain itself. Play is one of the earliest ways for children to begin learning and teaching their brain certain skills like intrinsic motivation and executive functioning according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. It even contributes to facilitating synapse connections and improving brain plasticity!

Second, play is one of the ways children begin to form and build on relationships with those around them. Playing with other children is an important way to build on the social aspect of a child's development. This can begin the understandings of concepts like friendship for children. Playing with their parents and siblings is another way for children to tap into their imagination and learn to have fun in a safe environment with other individuals they are already comfortable with.

Third, play can teach children self-regulation skills. While growing up and going to school or childcare, there will be many instances where children will have to wait their turn or share with other children. The more consistent play a child partakes in, the more they understand concepts of patience or sharing that can help regulate their emotions. This can help avoid tantrums or upset feelings, and even begin developing more complex feelings like empathy.

So, are you ready now to start encouraging play for your children?

If so, let's look at the Three C's of Play created by Yolonda Deon Tyler that are the foundation of play:


  • A feeling of fellowship with others as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.


  • The use of the imagination or original ideas.

Cognitive Development 

  • The process through which an individual acquires knowledge, comprehension, problem-solving skills, and the capacity for abstract thinking.

These Three C's of Play are designed to be a comprehensive framework that captures the essence of the play experience. Together, they weave a rich tapestry that defines the core of PLAY—a dynamic, transformative process that shapes individuals, their relationships, and their intellectual capabilities.

To learn more about the resources used in this blog post, check out the links below.

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