What is play?

Play is more than meets the eye.  It is fundamental and essential for infants, toddlers, and preschool age children to develop healthy active brains, bodies, and relationships.  Through play, children learn about themselves and the world through self-created experiences and positive social interactions with peers and nurturing adults. Children explore and practice complex motor, cognitive, communication, and social skills developing neural synapses that lead to self-regulation, symbolic or representational capacities, and executive functions. They develop competencies and character traits that support learning and emotional well-being. Given time, space, supportive adults, open-ended materials, and safe, yet challenging environments, children develop confidence in themselves, competencies to master their environment, deep-seated connectedness to and caring about others, the ability to create environments of love, safety, and security, and resilience. Play is natural. Play is meaningful. Play is joyful. Play is essential as we engage and prepare our young children for the 21st century.

The Vision for Our Play Work

The early childhood education professional in Iowa will provide strong play advocacy and developmentally appropriate play experiences for young children. 

1.  to develop and support play leadership.
2.  to incorporate conservation and the ethical usage of materials into training experiences.
3.  to develop appropriate resources.
4.  to develop and offer appropriate professional development experiences.

Iowa AEYC Play Coaches

Iowa AEYC provides play coaches who facilitate workshops about the importance of play.  All of the Iowa AEYC Play Coaches have received their Level 1 Credential from the Institute for Self-Active Education (ISAE). If you are interested in hosting a play experience, contact Iowa AEYC - info@iowaaeyc.org

Articles and Resources

Institute for Self Active Education, Inc. - The ISAE provides professional development workshops, play leadership training programs and discovery retreats to promote play for children.

NAEYC Play Resources - Read about the latest research on play, play based learning, why play is an important part of children's learning and development, the role of play in the classroom and ideas to share with families from NAEYC.

Seeing the Learning in Play - A presentation created by the National Institute for Early Education Research about the benefits of using performance-based assessments to enhance learning in play.

Play with Purpose Campaign - Together, Toys“R”Us and Save the Children are embarking on a mission to provide children in impoverished regions of the country with opportunities and resources to integrate purposeful play into their everyday lives.

Learning Through Play at Cherry Preschool - A look into a day at Cherry Preschool, a play-based preschool in Evanston, Illinois.

Is There Hope for a Return to Common Sense in Early Childhood Education? - An article exploring the early childhood transformation into a standards-based, test-focused system, and the likelihood of play making a comeback.

Why What You Learned in Preschool Is Crucial at Work - An article regarding the importance of relationships and "people skills" in the real world.

The Common Core and Play in Kindergarten - The broad variation of Common Core implementation at the kindergarten level allows for developmentally appropriate practices, play, and the Common Core to reside peacefully together.