Date of Award


Document Type

Non Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Education




Early Childhood Education

Capstone Instructor

Cecelia Westby

Second Reader

Lynn Gehrke


early childhood education, play-based learning


Early childhood practitioners understand that play is essential to supporting early childhood growth and development. Play is a source of enjoyment and creativity for young children and it is also the primary catalyst of cognitive, emotional, linguistic, physical and social development. Recent research has proven that meaningful and active play experiences are essential to promoting healthy brain development in young children. Play is a crucial activity for young children yet, it has become extinct in many early childhood programs. The disappearance of play is attributed to government educational standards, administrative demands and parental pressure. As a result, many early childhood educators have bowed to outside pressures and have implemented academically-centered curriculum. This capstone explains the importance of play in early childhood education and the developmental benefits of play and play-centered curriculum for young children.


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