For everyone to understand the importance of play in early childhood education we have to understand growth, development and how children learn. Children learn through both genetic and environmental influence. Changes in an infant then occur through quantitative change which is the increase in size or strength or qualitative change the increase of complexity such as neurological structure. This is when the growth and the development interact.
Therefore, Growth and Development = Growth and Learning, the process where humans change both qualitatively and quantitatively. In the process things add up, increase, transform and become new due to genetic and environmental factors.
In order to understand growth and learning you have to understand the three Domains or aspects of human abilities. The three domains include physical, cognitive, and socio-emotional. The domains are interrelated and support each other.
Physical domain: includes size of body, functions of gross and fine motor, and abilities to control the body.
Cognitive domain: includes abilities to process information, and abilities to use language.
Socio-emotional domain: include abilities to interact with other people and feeling that motivate and organize thoughts and actions.
We then need to understand that the factors that influence growth and learning which are genetic including being the gene, gender, and prenatal development and environmental including nutrition, health, safety, and quality of experiences. Lastly, it’s important to understand the milestones of a typical child at a particular age group. This includes different set of characteristics of what children at a certain age level should be able to do or the norms of development.
Understanding child development domains, factors, and milestones help provide teachers and parents with useful information for teaching and helping a child grow and learn in the best way and setting. Ultimately identifying the child needs and level of development and help assist their growth and learning by providing a play environment.
Bae-Suh, Soyoun (2007).Growth and Learning Birth to 5.