In 2003, Patty Hannan founded PlayWisely, a ground-breaking approach to early childhood development that’s received accolades from neuroscientists and parents throughout the US and around the world.
And it all began with gymnastics. No, really!
Patty doesn’t like to brag, but she was a bona fide All-American gymnast in college. Now, that may seem far from the field of early childhood development, but it was that experience that found her participating in a NASA research project investigating how world-class gymnasts could assist astronauts in navigating zero-gravity space.
Patty excelled in the study and was particularly impressed by her experiences in zero gravity aboard the infamous “vomit comet”. Don’t worry; she was fine!
Anyway, the leaders of the study realized that gymnasts take movement in three-dimensional space VERY seriously. They’d better or else they end up falling on their head!!! They also realized that gymnasts approached movement in a way that their latest experiments overlapped with how human brains develop to navigate our three-dimensional world.
Fascinated – and at the request of the leader of the NASA study – Patty dove into the scientific literature of neuroscience and other related fields. Her years-long research, which included guidance by several top neuroscientists, led her to uncover a unique approach for training neurosensory skills applicable to both cognitive and motor development.
"...a unique approach for training neurosensory skills applicable to both cognitive and motor development..."
Which brings us to kids.
Patty had always been interested in early childhood education, having helped found and been the first teacher at the prestigious daVinci Preshool in Dallas, Texas and having had her first book "Teaching Your Child Basic Body Confidence" published by Houghton-Mifflin.
And now she had an approach to develop cognitive and motor skills – basically what every child on the planet focuses on for the first several years of their lives – that comported with the latest, validated neuroscience and not the fad of the day.
Patty knew what she had to do. She created a curriculum for infants from six months old to 5 years old based on the latest, validated neuroscience. She called it PlayWisely and started providing the program’s curriculum at the daVinci School. It expanded from there and now reaches children in the US, Europe and South America.
And Patty’s not done. Her current humble goal is to find a way for every child on the planet to benefit from the PlayWisely program. She lectures all over the world about the science and play behind PlayWisely, and, oh, she continues her involvement with the sport of gymnastics as a nationally-rated NCAA and USA Gymnastics Official.