Susan Ochshorn, a specialist in early childhood education, demonstrates in this post (as she has before, and will again) that play is crucial for the healthy mental development of young children. Ochshorn is the founder of ECE Policyworks and a tireless advocate for childhood.
Ochshorn cites the research of Deborah Leong to explain the importance of play.
“Self-regulation, as the non-neuroscientists among us refer to executive function, has to do with the development of the prefrontal cortex, and influences both cognition and emotions. Leong compares this “muscle,” which grows exponentially in the years from birth to five, to a traffic controller, allocating mental resources to focus on the tasks at hand. Here are the three components of executive function:
Inhibitory self-control, which allows children to delay gratification, and to stay on task, even when they’re bored;
Working memory, which enables kids to take multiple perspectives and hold two strategies in…