Diane Nichols-Fleming Director of Early Childhood Programs
The quality of a child's experiences from birth to five years old has a very significant effect upon the child's growth in all areas of development. What a child learns in the first few years of life is the foundation for all future social and academic success. Current research on brain development has given strong support to this philosophy.
Children have an inborn desire to learn. From birth to the age of eight, play is an important means by which this learning is achieved. Many scientists are now convinced that children's play has a vital role in healthy development. When children are provided with the appropriate materials in a supportive environment, they will naturally engage in those activities promoting their physical, emotional, and intellectual development. Play provides the best opportunities for this development because children are motivated when they enjoy themselves. The NCSU Early Childhood Programs tap this learning potential, and use play to encourage children's exploration and development of literacy, early math concepts, and social skills.
Play is a child's way of developing and practicing skills which lay the foundation for later educational experiences and are necessary for function in society. Play is very serious work to a child and needs to be valued and taken seriously by adults. When adults join children in this play, or actively support it through providing good toys and encouragement, children feel valued and motivated to learn.
At the NCSU Early Childhood Programs, "play" means experiences which are enjoyable, self-motivating, and address many areas of development. These include reading books, building with blocks and Legos, taking walks, dramatic play, drawing, writing, water play, crafts, sand play, puzzles, singing, dancing and using our imagination.