Do you have a playful mindset?

We know that play based practices is so important for early childhood education. In fact, research tells us that when we are intentional about creating a play-based environment our children will build math and problem skills, increase their physical ability, learn vocabulary and enhance language skills, understand important social skills and build a foundation for understanding the world around them.

playful mind set in early childhood education - Women and girl hulu hooping

Understanding Our Role in Play-Based Practices

But did you know that your role in the play-based environment is essential? When we understand playful learning we begin to create an environment that not only enhances early childhood learners, but builds an environment that welcomes natural curiosity. Natural curiosity is the key ingredient for lifelong learning.

It is our responsibility as early childhood educators to set up a play forward program that builds this environment of natural curiosity. In order for us to be intentional about what our program looks like, we must, ourselves, have an understanding of play. That is, we need a playful mindset.

Why a Playful Mindset Matters

Research explains to us that a playful mindset is how we think about and approach life. People who are playful are able to transform almost any situation into one that is amusing and entertaining by cognitively and imaginatively manipulating it in their mind. A playful nature or spirit can be developed by just seeing play a little differently. Knowing the benefits of play, we can build an overall disposition that can see any environment as a playground.  

READ: Learning to Say YES!

When we embrace a playful mindset, we reframe what is challenging into an opportunity to learn and grow. We find humor in things that are difficult. We see the wonder of everyday experiences. In a way, we, ourselves, become like children. Research has shown us the best teachers all embrace the playful mindset. Are you ready for a playful mindset?

Join us at our Training Institute to learn more about Play-Based Practices, and how YOU can make a difference in your program. 

Kathy Banks

Kathy Banks, Educator Support Specialist for Experience Early Learning, has 35 years of early childhood education experience. She has held various positions, including teacher, director, multi-site director, Head Start director, CCR&R, and QRIS Director. She currently adjuncts at several colleges and universities and continues to support and inspire educators through training and practical strategies. Kathy is working on her dissertation to complete her Ed.D. in Early Childhood Education. Kathy is also a nationally certified Family and Consumer Science Developmental Educator.  Her experience and education make her a scholarly expert in child development and the realities and challenges of teaching and directing every day. 


Baker, M. & Ryan, J. (2021). Playful provocations and playful mindsets: teacher learning and identity shifts through playful participatory research. Pg 6-24

Melasalmi A, Siklander, S, Kangas M and Hurme T-R (2023) Agentic playful pre-service teachers: Positionings from teacher-initiated playful teacher to community-shared playful teacher. Front. Educ. 8:1102901. doi: 10.3389/feduc.2023.1102901 

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