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Play: The possibilities are as vast as the universe

A baby’s brain contains 100 billion neurons (nerve cells) at birth—that’s about as many stars as in the Milky Way!  And nearly all that brain will need.


Each neuron has about 2,500 synapses—connections between the neurons that aid in brain development. By the time a child is 2-3 years old, that number grows to 15,000 synapses per neuron as the brain develops. These early formative years are prime time to create the foundation for learning that will carry us into adulthood. From a very early age, children play. Children learn about the world around them and themselves through play. Play is a huge factor in a child’s development. It provides opportunities to develop essential developmental skills.

Have you heard about the 4Cs? You may be reminded of those jewelry commercials where they discuss the 4Cs of diamond buying.  But if you’re not in the market for a major sparkler, it could be an educational discussion focused on new goals and skills for students in the 21st century:

1. Communication
2. Collaboration
3. Critical Thinking
4. Creativity

These are called learning and innovation skills that are highly sought today, that prepare students for college, careers, and interpersonal relationships.  Communication and collaboration stem from creativity and engages critical thinking to look at problems in new ways and to link things across various disciplines and areas. Notice that these aren’t specific to reading, writing and arithmetic?

But how do you teach such things?  Aren’t they inherently learned? Educators can create a learning environment and create scenarios that contribute to learning these skills, but ultimately, these things begin even before formal education begins…through play.

Early pretend play enhances a child’s ability to develop mental flexibility and creativity. And research suggests increased creative performance can occur years later. Ever hear someone say that they never used to consider themselves creative until later in life?  Well, that’s because the benefits of their play never go away.

Providing a learning or school atmosphere in which pretend games are encouraged, such as part of a curriculum or even during play at recess, has been proven to better levels of imaginativeness, curiosity and learning skills.

Let kids play and see them grow and thrive.  Support play and recess in schools. What ways are play incorporated in your child’s life or children you know? Share with us on Facebook or Twitter using #saveplay.