How Play Sets Your Child Up for Success

Sep 8, 2013   //   by Donna Ashton   //   Simple Education  //  34 Comments

909359_learning_the_rulesEverywhere we feel the pressure of making sure our young child
is “prepared.”  Whether that be academics, sports or music,
society calls for instructions to begin earlier and earlier.  T-ball,
early music lessons and structured learning in preschool are common and
expected.  It’s easy to fall prey to that “want to give them a head start” thinking.

But, a head start to what?

Children need time to develop their bodies, run free
and engage in deep play.

New research is now finding many more benefits to
letting a child be a child, play and have unstructured free time.

“Guided play advances cognitive skills like language, reading, math, as well as social skills like emotion regulation” says Dr. Katherine Hirsh-Pasek, psychologist and playful learning advocate.

Many of the fun activities your child is engaged in translate into skills they will need later in life.

Here are just a few examples…

Activity                                                                     What Your Child is Learning

Singing Listening, confidence in the power of her voice
Building Balance, structure, spatial relationships
Pretending Storytelling, flexible thinking, social dynamics, creativity
Dressing up Tapping into different aspects of the self, self discovery
Drawing Movement, flow, color, shape, bringing inner self out


Having a healthy body is another huge benefit of play.  Child obesity has reached scary numbers and one of the main culprits is a sedentary lifestyle for our kids.  Play creates strong bodies with coordination and vigor for life.  Fine and gross motor skills need to be sharp to prepare the brain for intellectual learning.  There is a direct link between physical movements and specific cognitive skills.

class5Lack of outdoor play also disconnects our children from nature, animals and caring for the earth. When they have time and freedom to roam around their surroundings they build these connections and learn by experiencing.

“Why does young children’s play lead to academic success ?  Play promotes self-regulation.  Self-regulation is the ability to control your own behavior, emotions and thinking.  It is essential for learning in all areas.” – By JEFFREY TRAWICK-SMITH, The Hartford Courant

Children’s  job is to play during these early years.

There will be plenty of time later for letters and counting and by fostering the play, you are giving them the head start for life.


donna 300x250Donna Ashton is the founder and CEO of The Waldorf Connection, an online resource that provides workshops, courses, and training for homeschooling families all over the globe.  She is committed to delivering confidence, clarity and support to momsseeking to educate their  children in a waldorf-inspired, conscious way.  Donna provides training, advice and resources to thousands of families worldwide. To get started with the very basics of homeschooling, download her Starter Waldorf Homeschool Toolkit.

Today Donna is offering a GIVEAWAY for Simplicity Parenting readers –

The winner will receive a seat in her new Living the Waldorf Life online course which begins September 12th.  Congratulations to Emma Farmer on winning this seat in class!

This program is 6-week online virtual training to help you embrace the Waldorf lifestyle while creating an environment to raise an imaginative, caring child with a love of learning & nature.

Click here for more information on course:

To enter –

1) Comment on this post with one thing you hope to learn in Donna’s online course, and you will be entered once.

2) Share this post on your facebook page, comment “shared it” and you will be entered twice.

A winner will be announced the morning of September 11th.

Good luck!


  • Love this…it’s so very true and so very sad that today’s society does not realize the importance of play for children. I hope to learn more about Waldorf education and how to have Waldorf inspired home environment for my children at home.

  • Shared it

  • Hi, my question concerns ways of dealing with the outside world, I.e. visiting friends who are not in the Waldorf thought, grandparents offering plastic – battery run toys, books not age appropriate etc.
    Thanks for this giveaway , and for offering this course,


  • Shared it -with joy!

  • I would to explore Living the Waldorf Life. I have a small family home daycare and would love to explore this and share with my families.

  • I would love to learn how to bring it all together and everybody on board. Thank you so much!

  • Shared it.

  • This course sounds amazing! We do a lot of parent education through our center and love to continue to bring ideas to families about slowing down and embracing the simplicity of daily life.

  • I’ve heard about Waldorf education for a while now, but am not completely familiar with it. We’ve just started homeschooling our four kids this year and I would love to learn how it can help us take a more intuitive and peaceful approach to teaching our kids. Thanks for the opportunity–Donna’s class looks wonderful!

  • I would love to take Donna’s course, it sounds like exactly what I need! I have been trying to incorporate as much Simplicity Parenting and Waldorf ideas into parenting and home life but it would be so helpful to have Donna and a group of like minded parents to learn more from. And despite my efforts I still feel overwhelmed and like there is so much more I could be doing to help my children/our family live a Waldorf lifestyle. This course sounds perfect!

  • I’d like to know what Waldorf is! I heard about it, but that’s it!

  • Shared on my Facebook page – It Keeps Getting Better. 🙂

  • I would love a chance to win this online course!!

  • Shared this page on my facebook wall 🙂

  • I hope to learn specific changes I can make in my everyday life to move more toward a Waldorf lifestyle for my children.

  • Shared it!

  • I may homeschool my 2 children, so I would love to listen to this course and learn tips so I’m not recreating the wheel at every step. My 2 children are in a Waldorf School now, but I’m leaning to homeschooling with Waldorf curriculum for many reasons.

  • Shared it!

  • shared it!

  • I’m hoping to learn ways to make life more predictable and comforting (read: less hissy fits!) for my 2.5 year old and hoping these same ways will set my 2 month old up to be a calmer child than her sister……

  • shared it

  • I would love to learn how to guide play at home!

  • Being a Waldorf mother for almost 10 years, I know from our daily practice how important playing is. (shared on my Facebook Page)

  • We homeschool using Live! Education, which we enjoy. I’d like to learn more about inner work.

  • I would love to make my home more Waldorf- and simplicity-inspired. We sometimes struggle with how many toys and books are too much, which ones are best to leave out, and which ones should go away.

  • Shared!

  • The course sounds perfect for us. I just started officially homeschooling my 4yr old daughter last week and I’d love some ideas on how to make our home more Waldorf-y to aid her creative play. Thanks!

  • Shared on fb too!

  • I would love the opportunity to learn how to incorporate Waldorf into our home for my young girls. An ecourse is exactly what I need. A little hand holding and personal guidance that books can’t offer. It looks amazing!

  • Shared it!

  • We are not in a position to homeschool and I would love to learn how to balance my daughter’s charter school culture and learning methods with Waldorf principles and activities at home.

  • I would love to learn more about creating a cocoon for my boys to nourish their senses, and then of course how to better “fill my own cup”…..

  • I would like to take Donna’s course to help me help my child navigate the (decidedly not waldorf) outside world with waldorf ideals as guidance.
    I don’t have a facebook account so can’t share this, but I did email a few friends with the link.
    Thank you.

  • I hope someone won this incredible opportunity?


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