PLAYbook Theory and Research

The National Scientific Council on the Developing Child (2007) concludes: “Emotional well-being, social competence and cognitive abilities together are the bricks and mortar that comprise the foundation of human development” (p. 8)

playbook-copy-packetDesigned specifically for children under the age of 3 and informed by the latest research, PLAYbook for infants, toddlers and parents emphasizes the importance for infants and toddlers of responsive relationships, age appropriate learning activities, supportive environments, and parent engagement. PLAYbook translates this research into predictable, engaging, and creative daily learning activities specifically designed for the development and sequence of learning of infants, toddlers, parents, and teachers.

PLAYbook is grounded in the most recent literature and research in the areas of developmental neuroscience and developmental psychology. These areas of research are helping us to understand the relationship between brain development, relationships and early experience. By viewing development through the lens of neuroscience, we are able to better able to understanding how experience influences the developing brain and the brain affects behavior. It also allows us to consider the specific ways in which experiences impact genes that directs the brain that impact behavior and visa-versa.

Brain Development

Before birth, a master blueprint specifies the location and function of brain cells, organs and other physical structures. Once the baby is born, development changes into the never-ending interactive processes of growth. Think of it as being like building a house: Before birth all of the materials for construction are created; after birth, the way the rooms are constructed and painted, the exterior look, the use of each room, and the furniture are decided. And, there are infinite opportunities to remodel during the process.

The brain is soaking in information while the baby is waiting for a bottle, reading a book, and playing peek-a-boo. Brain cells are just waiting to be connected with other brain cells, to be organized and put to use. In fact, a young child’s brain is prepared for an infinite number for possibilities. Everyday activities and interactions with caring adults are what mold the baby’s future.

The brain drives cognitive development and is responsible for emerging skills during the infant and toddler period of development. It is the job of a consistent and sensitive circle of adults—mom, dad, grandma, teacher – to help the baby’s brain to determine which pathways are most important! These interactions affect the brain architecture, which provides the foundation for all future learning.

As the baby grows in her abilities to express the internal activities of her brain, she can communicate what she feels, what she thinks, and how she learns. The richer the interactions and stimulations, the faster these connections develop.

Attachment Relationships

Infants and toddlers are relationship expectant. This means that responsive relationship from their parents and teachers are essential for healthy development and learning. Therefore, infants and toddlers are keenly in tune with the sensitivity, consistency and protective presence of their caring adults.

Substantial research indicates that early supportive, responsive, secure attachment relationships results in children have positive regard for themselves and others and possess a prototype of “I matter” that leads to school and relationship success. Those who begin life with a sense of security and basic trust in relationships bring this perspective with them into new relationships and situations. Their “neutral” setting is an understanding that others can be trusted and that they themselves are competent, important, and lovable.

We see how a baby’s earliest experiences and environments provide the building blocks for her future development and success:
   • A baby succeeds when the same caring adults give her consistent love and support with opportunities for engagement and learning.
   • A toddler succeeds when his caring adults provide enough structure to allow him to be big and little at the same time and help him find ways to balance his emotions and learning.
   • A three-year-old child succeeds when she receives the guidance, support, and encouragement to try new things, repeat her accomplishments, and expand the skills she learned through trusted relationships to new friends.

The research demonstrates that secure attachment relationships with parents and teachers in an environment rich in opportunities for exploration and social play creates a sturdy platform for development and schools success, even in the face of adversity. Emotional readiness is promoted in environments and with adults who:
   • Understand and are committed to their role as protective and sensitive partners
   • Buffer infants and toddlers from stressful life circumstances
   • Help infants and toddlers to learn emotional regulation
   • Are curious and engaged learners themselves

Research demonstrates that secure attachment relationships with parents and teachers in an environment rich in opportunities for exploration and social play creates a sturdy platform for development and schools success, even in the face of adversity. Emotional readiness is promoted in environments and with adults who:

  • Understand and are committed to their role as protective and sensitive partners
  • Buffer infants and toddlers from stressful life circumstances
  • Help infants and toddlers to learn emotional regulation
  • Are curious and engaged learners themselves

Abridged references »

See examples of Dr. Terrie Rose's PLAYbook curriculum