The National Accreditation on the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is a professional membership organization that works to promote high-quality early learning for all young children, birth through age 8, by connecting early childhood practice, policy, and research. We advance a diverse, dynamic early childhood profession and support all who care for, educate, and work on behalf of young children. The association comprises nearly 60,000 individual members of the early childhood community and 52 Affiliates, all committed to delivering on the promise of high-quality early learning. Together, we work to achieve a collective vision: that all young children thrive and learn in a society dedicated to ensuring they reach their full potential.

The NAEYC has published five elements essential to meaningful play:

1. Children make their own decisions.
When children choose how to play for themselves, they experience freedom in making those choices.

2. Children are intrinsically motivated.
The impulse to play comes from a natural desire to understand the world. This play impulse is as strong as your child’s desire for food or sleep.

3. Children become immersed in the moment.
In true play, children are so fully engaged that they lose awareness of their surroundings, time and space. In this risk-free atmosphere where reality is suspended, children have the security and safety they need to experiment, try new ideas and investigate the laws of nature.

4. Play is spontaneous, not scripted.
Often, play is totally unplanned. Other times, play is planned but a child impulsively makes a change. One child changes his mind, or perhaps a toy does not cooperate. This sense of the unknown provides children with opportunities to develop flexibility in their thinking and decision making, which is a vital life skill.

5. Play is enjoyable.
Play always has an emotional response attached to it. Without this emotional connection, the experience is simply an activity; it is not PLAY. Enjoyment is the direct result of engaging in play. It is FUN!

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is a professional membership organization that works to promote high-quality early learning for all young children, birth through age 8, by connecting early childhood practice, policy, and research. We advance a diverse, dynamic early childhood profession and support all who care for, educate, and work on behalf of young children. The association comprises nearly 60,000 individual members of the early childhood community and 52 Affiliates, all committed to delivering on the promise of high-quality early learning. Together, we work to achieve a collective vision: that all young children thrive and learn in a society dedicated to ensuring they reach their full potential.

The NAEYC has published five elements essential to meaningful play:

1. Children make their own decisions.
When children choose how to play for themselves, they experience freedom in making those choices.

2. Children are intrinsically motivated.
The impulse to play comes from a natural desire to understand the world. This play impulse is as strong as your child’s desire for food or sleep.

3. Children become immersed in the moment.
In true play, children are so fully engaged that they lose awareness of their surroundings, time and space. In this risk-free atmosphere where reality is suspended, children have the security and safety they need to experiment, try new ideas and investigate the laws of nature.

4. Play is spontaneous, not scripted.
Often, play is totally unplanned. Other times, play is planned but a child impulsively makes a change. One child changes his mind, or perhaps a toy does not cooperate. This sense of the unknown provides children with opportunities to develop flexibility in their thinking and decision making, which is a vital life skill.

5. Play is enjoyable.
Play always has an emotional response attached to it. Without this emotional connection, the experience is simply an activity; it is not PLAY. Enjoyment is the direct result of engaging in play. It is FUN!

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