The more I study play, the more of a purest I become.. It brings to light the thought that if we say that humans are designed to play and learn from life and through interactions with people and things.. then why do we try to alter or speed up that natural process ?.. I think the saying " You can't fix what ain't broken" comes to mind..
A play based program is one that does not come prescribed with pre-written daily lesson plans.. No calendars of pre-planned activities ripped from the pages of cookie cutter pre school workbooks. No worksheets, no flashcards, no teacher decided lesson plans and blanket lists of academic goals to reach.
A play-based preschool is rooted in the idea that through play, children will learn socially, cognitively, physically and the whole child will be developed and nurtured.
This IDEA.. is not just an IDEA it is well backed up by research and is proven in classrooms worldwide. Knowing what we know about children and what science has proven, has supported my passion to provide a play-based program for the children enrolled at my school.
***In this set of posts I will attempt to show a small glimpse into the learning of all kinds that happens naturally in my play based preschool. Play... It's Academic, Play... It's Emotional, Play... It's Work, Play... It's Person Building, Play.. It's the Foundation, and finally Play... It's Learning. This is Part One Play... It's Academic**
Programs designed for young children should reflect the developmental needs of the children in the program not mimic that of children much older with a completely different set of developmental needs.
Preschools should not look like schools at all, they should look like living breathing places for play.. heck I think SCHOOLS can use a little re design to meet the needs of the children and support children of all ages in active, engaged learning.
Each day I witness children engaged in self guided learning. These experiences are meaningful because they are initiated by the children based on their interest in that moment. I find that the children are deeply engaged in tasks and challenges that they choose. They spend much more time and effort to solve their problem or complete their task because it's their task and the motivation is coming from within.
Why not set up "work stations" to learn through play like the play that naturally took place in the example above?
Because, natural and authentic learning like what was observed happens when the idea is owned by the children. When it is THEIR inner voice that leads them to fill their time with that task. It's like a lit fire that they control the flame of, if we keep trying to fan and blow on it to make it grow we may risk accidentally putting out that fire.. Instead we tend to the fire giving it what it needs to continue to glow and flicker. If we trust that play is enough we can allow experiences like this to take place, we can trust that children will re play these same schemas time and time again until the layer of learning is set and they are ready to construct additional layers.
Uninterrupted play with open ended loose parts is vital to the development of the whole child. Play supports the development of social/emotional, physical, cognitive, and creative skills in children. How do you make time and space in your program for play?