Early Learning Community

Tips and resources to support children birth to age five

Importance of Play

Play is how young children learn best.  It is through play that a child develops in the important areas of feeling and connecting, sensing and moving, listening and talking, and thinking and remembering.


Through playful experiences children develop:

  • Emotional skills as they spend time with you and others learning about feelings, how to manage them, and understanding the feelings of others.
  • Social skills which they master by learning to follow directions, to cooperate, to take turns, to share and to abide by rules.
  • Physical (gross-motor) skills as children learn to reach, crawl, walk, run, climb, jump, throw, catch, and balance.
  • Fine-motor skills (the use of hands and fingers) as they handle and manipulate objects, toys, books, and art supplies like, crayons, scissors, and pencils.
  • Language skills that grow as children interact with others and use words when they play with toys and engage in activities.
  • Critical thinking skills through play that encourages problem solving and helps them learn concepts like cause and effect, quantities, or spatial relationships.
  • Creativity and imagination; as children pretend to be doctors, teachers, parents, or firefighters, they learn that life is full of possibilities and opportunities.


You are your child’s first and favorite playmate.  You can contribute to your child’s playful experiences by joining in your child’s play. 


You can:

  • Observe your child to learn their favorite play activities and to determine his level of skills so you can support and encourage his growth and development.
  • Follow their lead, be sensitive to their cues, and target your play to her level of skills and abilities.  Let you child determine the direction of play.
  • Use Your Imagination and enter into the creative world of your child’s play.  You will be amazed at how many new and exciting adventures you can have if you are open to new ideas.
  • Be enthusiastic!  Getting into playful activities with energy and a willingness to commit yourself to a role as you pretend, to become the characters in the books you read, and to do an activity for the tenth time—these are the loving memories your child will cherish his whole life.


And finally, the most important contribution you can make is to have fun!  As you have playful experiences with your child, you will strengthen your relationship and have the opportunity to support you child in her learning.  And it just doesn’t get any better than that!  So go ahead and play!

Interested in learning more about play activities, explore the PlayBright® Learning System from Children's Home Society of Washington. A sample of the resources are listed below. To learn more visit, www.PlayBright.org.

Content provided by Children's Home Society of Washington

PlayBright® Learning System

The PlayBright® Early Learning System is a new educational program for parents and educators that combines the most current early child development research with fun, interactive play experiences to promote healthy brain development and school readiness. PlayBright uses fun, playful interactions and activities to build healthy development, early learning skills, and a strong foundation for success in children birth to age five.

PlayBright is comprised of three components (both English and Spanish)– the PlayBright Keys to Learning resource guide, professional development training and Guidebooks, one for each year ages birth to five. Together, the system provides a single repository of information needed to stimulate early learning in each young child.

The PlayBright Keys to Learning is an easy-to-understand research-based reference about how young children learn and develop and provides an in –depth look at the research foundations behind the PlayBright system.

PlayBright guidebooks are “how-to-guides” for using play to ensure each child’s development is happy, healthy and on track.

  • Each colorfully-illustrated guidebook focuses on a single year from birth to five and includes:
  • Simple explanations of a child's emotional, physical, social, language, and cognitive development.
  • Brain and early learning research foundations for activities.
  • Fun activities, songs, and games that boost learning.
  • Developmental milestones and a checklist to chart a child's progress.
  • Strategies to support a child's learning and school readiness.
  • Recommendations for educational toys that encourage learning and interaction

PlayBright 24 - 36 Months


PlayBright 36 - 48 Months


PlayBright 48 - 60 Months

Learn More

To learn more about PlayBright or to purchase a copy visit www.PlayBright.org. Special offer for Early Learning Community Members only: $20 per Guidebook using the offer code "ELC". Act now! Offer valid through September 30, 2009 only.

To learn more about PlayBright or to take advantage of this special offer, visit www.PlayBright.org.

Additional Resources

The PlayBright Early Learning System was developed by practitioners at Children’s Home Society of Washington, a non-profit with decades of experience in promoting the healthy growth and development of young children. Learn more about CHSW at www.childrenshomesociety.org. This resource is offered by Children's Home Society of Washington. To learn more, visit www.chs-wa.org.

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