Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Yes...Kids Really do Learn Through Play!

We are just around the corner from another new semester...for both my college kiddos and the preschool kiddos.  The courses I teach change each semester with the exception of my early childhood curriculum course...which I know I shouldn't have favorites...but it is my favorite class to teach.  In this class we look and learn about all the developmental domains and create activities for preschool children to fit within a play based developmentally appropriate curriculum. sounds like fun doesn't it?  And to add to the fun factor...the students have to enroll in a practicum experience in our preschool lab.

My students get the idea of developmentally appropriateness...because I drill it in then in every single class that I teach!  Play based curriculum is another issue.  My students "get" that kids need to play and that they can learn through play...but when it comes time to plan activities the playfulness sometimes goes away.  Sometimes I think it is because they don't feel that a lesson plan should focus on play because a lesson plan sounds more like a  formal document that surely must not include play.  Another idea that crosses my mind is my students may have not had the opportunity to learn through play in their educational experiences...that push for more academics that lead to more worksheets and less dramatic play and block centers in the kindergarten classroom.  Then there is the final option that I do not want to even think about...that it might be that they just do not "get" it.

There are times when my practicum students mention that there needs to be a more focused academic curriculum in the preschool.  "The kids should be doing more learning activities."  What?  Learning activities?  What exactly do you think we do all day?  This is where I feel my preaching and numerous examples have failed.  In a prerequisite course I have my students defend play to imaginary colleagues, parents, and administrators...they can do it...but when begin planning they tend to focus more on product based activities.  I continue to point out examples of how children learn through simply is so much easier to learn something when you don't realize you are supposed to be learning something.  I was a master of physics as a child in the bathtub...just let me experiment with an empty cup and the water.  What do children learn by exploring fingerpaints...without a preconceived idea from their teacher of what their masterpiece should look like...they learn about textures, color mixing, properties of the paper, force of the push of their finger, how to move their arm, elbow...maybe even their nose?

I will start my semester on my soapbox defending learning through play...I will even "make" my students play to experience it on their own.  I want them to be able to stand up and explain all the benefits of the block area (or dramatic play, writing center, puppet stage, painting easel, sand table, tire swing, the list goes on) to a parent who asks, "Why do they play all day?"

1 comment:

  1. I'm moving from an alternate day k position to a all day Young 5's job. Thanks for giving me, and my students these wonderful ideas!