Thursday, August 13, 2015

Kids Learn through Play? Are you sure....?

In preparation for the opening of the STEAM Preschool, I have come across many articles that support the philosophy that will be implemented - open-ended, child-directed, project-based, creative exploration and discovery.  Children having FUN!  Not only that, but the fun fosters a healthy appreciation for learning and curiosity.  Playing with others teaches collaboration, problem solving, and communication skills.  If this is the case, why do parents still want an "academic" based school?

In his article called "Let the Kids Learn Through Play," David Kohn explains that play is crucial for children.  In a study by neuroscientist Jay Giedd, it was shown that children under 7 and 8 years old "are better suited for active play than didactic explanation."  Aren't we all?  I know that I learn better when I am allowed to discover for myself, rather than someone "telling" me what I should be learning.  Why would we think it is any different for a 3 or 4 year old child?  What makes us think it is okay to give these children dittos and have them recite memorized information?

In my opinion, "play" has gotten a bad rap.  There are many elements of play.  When a teacher is intentional in the environment and materials available to the children, the STEAM concepts leap out to children while they are "tinkering" and "experimenting."  When a teacher backs up those experiments with open-ended questions, it boosters a child's learning and language even more.  Without giving them the answer, it causes them to think critically about why things work the way they do.  What would happen if...?  Why isn't that working....?  Isn't that how great discoveries are made?  By someone trying something, tweaking it, and trying again?  Play has so many purposes, and in it's natural state, makes us happy.  It engages us, teaches us, and shapes who we are.

Our preschool children of today will be in the graduating Class of 2028.  Can you even imagine what our lives will be like then?  In a world where the iPad was only invented 5 years ago, it is difficult to image where we will be in 13 years.  I know that I want to be a part of a world that hasn't forgotten the role of play and how important it is.

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