Yesterday I was walking by a playground of children playing in Paris, France. The sounds of the play could have been happening in China, Holland, or Tulsa, Oklahoma. 

Because the fact is, all children are wired for play. It’s one of the universal drives inherent in human nature. Children are born knowing how to play:

  • A three month old baby sees an object of interest and follows it with their eyes.
  • A six month old sees an object of interest and reaches for it.  
  • A nine month old holds an object of interest and passes it back and forth from one hand to another.
  • A twelve month old sees an object of interest and crawls to it or pulls up on a coffee table to grab it.

Interest drives development.

We intuitively know and understand that babies’ interests are driving the development of important fine and gross motor skills. We delight in their delight.

What’s fascinating is that we abandon this notion as young children become more articulate.

Why is a four year-old’s interest in play no longer important? Why are we asking kindergarteners to sit still in their chairs and listen without becoming restless?

Where in the world did we get the idea that worksheets are better for a budding mind than play?

Yes. I hear some of you saying that a four year-old can count, whereas a 3 month-old can not. This is true – but does it mean that we should ignore interest?

The truth is that PLAY is what develops a child’s physical, emotional and mental growth.

It is here, in the child’s interest, that we are given an undeniable force to scaffold and facilitate the remarkable – to shape the future!

We don’t know exactly how a child’s play interests will someday translate into the contributions they make to the world, but we can be the springboard that provides them EVERY opportunity to pursue what makes them special and unique.

Pay special attention this week.

What interests are driving the growth of the children who are in your care?

Remember that YOU play a crucial part in the unfolding of their life.

Interest… play… WONDER. These are the most powerful forces of growth in human beings.


Broadhead, Pat, Howard, Justine, Wood, Elizabeth (2010). Play and Learning in the Early Years – From Research to Practice. SAGE Publications.

Hedges, Helen (2022). Children’s Interests, Inquiries and Identities: Curriculum, Pedagogy, Learning And Outcomes In The Early Years. Routledge.

Moyles, Janet (2015). The Excellence of Play. Open University Press, McGraw-Hill Education.

Paley, Vivian Gussin (2004). A child’s work: the importance of fantasy play. The University of Chicago Press.