The significance of a man is not in what he attains but in what he longs to attain.
-Kahlil Gibran

“Play is simply shorthand for our capacity for curiosity, imagination, and fantasy — our creative dispositions,” writes David Elkind in his article, “Preschool Academics:  Learning What Comes Naturally,” in the new Advocating for Play.  “What makes play unique,” Elkind continues, “is that it enables us to create new learning experiences. To illustrate, an infant who drops a rattle from the crib, is learning about gravity. He or she is also creating a game with the parent who is retrieving the rattle. In addition, the infant learns that different objects make different sounds when they are dropped. Certainly children can learn these lessons from watching an adult perform the same actions, but it is much more powerful when the infant creates these experiences through his or her own actions. Learning by doing is always much more effective than learning by watching.

“Perhaps the best example of how children learn from their self-created experiences is babbling. No one teaches the infant to babble, it comes entirely from the infant. In the process of vocalizing, the infant creates all of the sounds needed to speak any language on earth. As the infant listens to the language being spoken around him or her, the baby selects those vowels and consonants that are unique to the language of the parents. As toddlers, children often create their own grammars. So called ‘pivot’ grammars are a case in point. That is the child uses a single word as the pivot of many different shorthand sentences, ‘Baby up,’ ‘Baby drink,’ ‘Baby down,’ and so on. Language is a powerful example of the importance of children’s self-initiated play activities in their social learning.”

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