Early Learning: Myths vs. Facts

Did you know that 90 percent of the brain is developed by the age of five?

It is common knowledge that early childhood is an important period of each person’s life where children learn lifelong skills such as counting, reading, and writing. Although the brain continues to develop and change into adulthood, the first eight years of a child’s life build the foundation for future learning, development, and success.

However, there are many misconceptions about early learning, especially when it comes to what early learning looks like. To learn more, read through the following myths and facts.

Early Learning Myths

Myth 1:

Play is something that professionals and caregivers use to fill time. There aren’t any benefits to play, but children enjoy it.

Myth 2:

Academic skills are the most important element of early learning. At home and in early childhood programs, young children should be focusing on learning letters, shapes, and numbers.

Myth 3:

For it to be beneficial, play has to have a purpose. It would be best if a parent or educator guided the child through play and supervised the entire session.

Myth 4:

You should wait until your child is a bit older to start playing. Babies aren’t old enough to play.

Early Learning Facts

Fact 1:

Meaningful play experiences help your child build background knowledge, imagination, and rational thought that enables academic skill development. In fact, play is the primary way your child uses language and math concepts.

Fact 2:

In addition to learning academic skills, early childhood programs focus heavily on practicing social, emotional, and physical skills that support children’s success in and out of the classroom.

Fact 3:

While caregiver-child play is important, unsupervised child-led play helps children become independent and make decisions.

Fact 4:

Babies love to play and it’s a great way to bond! Even a simple game of peekaboo can leave your baby giggling and smiling.


A young child in a green, black, and white jersey stands in front of an easel playing with paint brushes and art tools.

Series Navigation

The Developmentally Appropriate Parenting Series highlights several early childhood topics to support parents and caregivers who are caring for young children. Use the list below to navigate through each series topic:

Learn more about the series.

Request free printed materials from our Developmentally Appropriate Parenting Series.


Picture: A young baby looks up at the camera.
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