Archives for February 2012

The Power of Play, Part 2

Earlier this year I posted a link to a wonderful article that highlighted the power of children’s play on development. This post continues that discussion by looking at the importance of play in developing children’s cognitive abilities. In the article, “The Academics-Versus-Play Debate”, author Rae Pica suggests that children’s play must continue to be a major part of a child’s curriculum and everyday learning because studies show that:

  • Movement is the young child’s preferred mode of learning.
  • Lessons that are physically experienced have more immediate and longer-lasting impact.
  • The integration of body systems allows for optimal learning to take place.
  • The more senses used in the learning process, the more information retained.
  • Play is linked to greater creativity and problem solving, improved reading levels, and higher IQ scores.
  • There is a strong correlation between the time children are most playful and the time when the brain is making the most connections.


The article goes on to outline additional findings that support the important role of play in a child’s learning. In the article, Rae Pica also lists a few examples of typical children’s playful activities and the areas of development that each supports. To read the article in full check out the link above found on Rae Pica’s website www.movingandlearning.com.

Support Your Baby’s Learning Everyday

“Your baby is learning-about you, himself, and the world around him-from the moment he enters the world.”

There are may ways that parents and caregivers can support baby’s learning in simple, yet memorable ways during everyday activities. The handout, brought to you by Zero to Three, titled Everyday Ways to Support Your Baby’s and Toddler’s Early Learning gives some easy activities and things to keep in mind during everyday interactions with your baby that will support development in the following areas:

*language and communication

*thinking skills

*self-control

*self-confidence

Check out the link above to get detailed information on what you can do to support your baby’s early learning.

Cyber Safety: What Parents Can Do to Protect and Educate Their Children

We currently hear a lot about the easily accessible, inappropriate things that are lurking on the World Wide Web. The question should be: How can we protect and educate our children when it comes to their use of the internet? “Surprisingly, perhaps, the child most likely to be involved in Internet crimes is the “good kid” – one who is bright, does well in school, and who has friends and involved parents. Unfortunately, few parents know what to look for or what to do to decrease the chance of their child being involved in Internet crimes.”
By using the tips from the article titled,  Children and the Internet, you will reduce the likelihood your child will be involved in Internet crime, either as victim or perpetrator.

The article includes 12 things a parent can do to protect their child on the internet. Some of the tips include:

*Install the children’s computer(s) in a common family area.

*Develop and agree upon a list of family computer use rules.

*Balance children’s computer time with other activities.

*Distinguish between a “friend” and a “cyber-pal.”

*Routinely check the computer activity.

*Consider using blocking, filtering, or monitoring controls on your computer.

For a complete list of the 12 tips and their detailed descriptions check out the brochure using the link above brought to you by Parenting Press.

The Power of Play

As many of us already know, children’s play has been proven to be critical for cognitive, physical, and emotional development in young children. However, as this newsletter piece titled, Scrap Edutainment: Let Kids REALLY Play, from the Parenting Press News for Parents (February 2012) explains, sometimes it seems as if modern society is working against children’s natural desire for play.

“If parents and teachers wanted to design a way of life counter to the needs of developing human brains, they’d invent something like modern childhood,” declares Gabrielle Principe.

In “Your Brain on Childhood: The Unexpected Side Effects of Classrooms, Ballparks, Family Rooms and Minivans” (Prometheus Books, 2011), this psychology professor rails against Baby Einstein, video games, and battery-powered toys.

Instead of crowding them in classrooms for most of each weekday, babysitting them with wide-screen television, allowing video games to flood their bodies with adrenaline, building them artificial playgrounds and telling them what to play at recess, Principe says that adults should limit technology, cut back on organized sports and create plenty of time “for play that’s freewheeling, make-believe and messy.” In addition, schools would stop teaching to standardized tests, they’d individualize lessons, minimize homework, eliminate letter grades and bring back recess. This, she insists, will make children’s brains grow normally.

When kids get to play independently, improvising and imagining as they go along, they stimulate the growth of brain cells in the executive portion of the frontal cortex, which Principe describes as the foundation for executive function, the skills such as memory, attention and self-regulation. Free play develops self-regulation, she explains, because kids are in control. And self-regulation is what helps children delay gratification (i.e., wait their turn), clean up after play dates, persist at challenging tasks, and control negative emotion. Another plus of self-play: it also includes private talk, when children talk to themselves and others to lay out ground rules or the next set of moves. Although kids use it most when they’re pretending, they are learning a technique that we adults use during a cognitively demanding task, or an overwhelmingly emotional situation, she says.

Learning self-regulation can put a child on the path to lifetime success faster than anything else, this psychologist believes. “It’s a better predictor of school success than IQ.” If we butt out of their play, quit making up the rules for them, and reduce the time they spend in organized sports, after-school lessons and classes, the more opportunities they have to learn to police themselves, she says.