Investment in the Early Years Helps in the Long-Run - August 2017

Pretend Play & Brain Growth
Let's Build a Train!
by Erin Akers, MEd

What is more wonderful than watching four year olds at play? The imaginative wonder and creativity present is unparalleled to any other time in life.

On this particular day the task involved planning to build a train and take a ride. The classroom was a place of intention, the work of socio-dramatic play. 

There was much work to be done:  moving chairs, arranging items, gathering needed materials, planning the route, assigning roles and jobs, making tickets and problem solving along the way.

In the end, the 15-car train was packed with animals for a stop at the zoo, food, a “sleeping car” with pillows, enough room for all, and was headed for Disney World. A few stops were made to switch conductors and engineers and to walk the animals of course!

The scenario seems simple: children playing imaginatively. Yet we now know that this work of play is more important than we ever imagined.

Relationships and Play Greatly Impact Brain Growth

There is groundbreaking current research on brain development that not only affirms what we already know regarding early development, but also offers us more detail as to how and when certain growth and development occurs. 


In a recent publication, “Zero to Three” echoes this concept urging practitioners working with young children to engage the child by “narrating the child’s ongoing experience of discovery and problem solving” as well as “engaging them in imitative play.” Further research studies by economist and Nobel Prize winner James Heckman show that there is a significant return on investment when high-quality zero-to-five programs are implemented. In short, investment in the right kind of programs and environments during the early years would change lives and our economy for the better.

Read the rest of the article on the SEEN Online Magazine!

brain growth pretend play and brain growth seen magazine southeast education network

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