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Professor Stresses Importance of Playtime at NYC Event

10/14/2010 —

In a great display of her expertise in infant and child development, Penn State Brandywine Assistant Professor Jennifer Zosh, of Glen Mills, expressed to 50,000 parents and their children how simple and fun learning can be at the Ultimate Block Party in New York City’s Central Park on October 3.

The event, hosted by the nonprofit organization Play for Tomorrow, was dedicated to educating families about how children are in fact learning important skills while they play. During the day of fun, children engaged in interactive games, like Simon Says and Hide-and-seek, built structures, explored forts, interpreted clues, played the drums and sang, while Zosh used her research and experience to explain the importance of these activities to their parents. Her goal was to prove the value of playtime.

“Translating academic research into every language for parents is crucial in informing them about the science behind play,” she said. “These games develop the 6 C’s: collaboration, communication, content, critical thinking, creative innovation and confidence in today’s kids.”

Zosh served on the Ultimate Block Party Advisory Committee, coordinating the event and helping write and edit My Playbook, a guide to the day’s activities, which was distributed to each family in attendance.

Zosh, assistant professor of human development and family studies, had good company with experts from a variety of academic and professional fields, including architects, engineers, artists, authors, scientists and musicians, not to mention celebrities, like event Special Spokesperson Mariska Hargitay, who brought along her son and husband for the day of fun and learning.

{Jennifer Zosh, of Glen Mills, assistant professor of human development and family studies at Penn State Brandywine, was invited as an expert in her field to educate 50,000 parents and their children about the importance of play in child learning at the Ultimate Block Party in New York City's Central Park on October 3.)

Even after the Ultimate Block Party, Zosh continues to educate the community as a guest blogger on the event’s website (http://www.ultimateblockparty.org/blog.html). “Learning isn’t about flashcards and facts, but it is about active play and exploration—the science is clear!” she posted. In another post she explains the benefits: “When children engage in the world around them, they explore properties of objects, discover new ideas, and practice skills—which simultaneously activates a variety of brain regions!”

Zosh has big plans for the future of infant and child cognition. She hopes to make new discoveries about memory development, number knowledge and language at Brandywine by inviting parent volunteers to bring their children for a day of play at the campus’ new Infant and Children Cognition Center (ICCC), which is slated to open in January 2011.

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