Your Game On! The Importance of Play in Early
By Danyelle Knight
Submitted by Fairmont
goes without saying that we live in a fast-paced,
highly competitive world. Parents raise children
in a frenzy of activity and work hard to equip
them with the skills they will need to be successful.
As parents, this is our duty, and we partner
with a host of others, family members, friends,
caregivers and teachers, in order to provide
our children the very best educational opportunities
to get ahead and stay ahead.
conception on, modern parents undertake the
education of children with seriousness-too much
seriousness it turns out. In many cases, parents'
best intentions for their children morph into
the need to push them to accomplishing academic
skills for which they are simply not developmentally
prepared. Educators, feeling the pressures of
parents and politics, help fuel the fire by
instituting curriculum and teaching techniques
that are inappropriate for young children. All
the while, research continues to prove the best
thing we can do for our kids is to relax.and
let them play.
have high hopes for their children. They want
the best for them," says Fairmont Private Schools'
Director of Education Sandy Cosgrove, "but we
have an obligation as educators to do what's
right for our students. Sometimes, what research
and experience proves is best for children doesn't
always align with what parents believe. We have
to help parents understand how young children
learn best and that active learning and play
is integral to any good early childhood program."
According to a recent clinical report from the
American Academy of Pediatrics, play is vital
to supporting the cognitive, physical, social
and emotional growth of children. There's a
tome of evidence to support this finding. Remember
the work of Jean Piaget from your Psychology
101 classes? In the 1970s, he investigated the
way young children think and stressed the need
to view their learning needs as different from
those of older children. Decades before Piaget's
research, Lev Vygotsky wrote ".from the point
of view of development, play is not the predominant
form of activity, but is, in a certain sense,
the leading source of development in preschool
years." From building forts and playing dress-up,
to climbing trees and making mud pies, children
learn and grow best during play.
even more impressive for the parents of tomorrow's
leaders, is that through play children imagine
the possibilities inherent in a diverse range
of settings and situations and use their creativity
to problem solve. If I add one more block to
my tower, will it fall down? I'll try adding
a few blocks at the bottom and see what happens.
Who knows what jobs will be in demand when our
children are ready to join the work force but
being able to truly "think" and discover novel
solutions for challenges will most certainly
set them apart.
"Regurgitating memorized facts might come in
handy on test day, but in the long run, it can
be crippling to students. Children come to us
at 2 ½ and 3 as curious little scientists, eager
to explore the world around them. The best preschools
foster this innate ability by providing a safe
and secure learning environment with dynamic,
hands-on learning," says Cosgrove. Fairmont
Private Schools created an Early Childhood Task
Force in spring 2009 specifically focused on
researching the learning needs of children from
preschool to second grade. Teachers, administrators
and school leaders came together to learn more
about what Fairmont can do to help its youngest
students thrive. The results of their investigation
revealed that the secret to fostering bright,
well-adjusted students primed for academic success
wasn't about drilling kids on ABCs and 123s.
wanted to counter the affects of TV and video
games and get kids outdoors, digging in the
dirt, discovering nature. This year we're working
with an experiential learning consultant to
help us create outdoor learning classrooms that
teach children science concepts in an active,
hands-on way," says Cosgrove. Encouraging outdoor
exploration is just one of the ways that Fairmont
incorporates play into its early childhood curriculum.
can you do to create a playful learning environment
for your child? Look for childcare or preschool
programs where the classrooms are bright and
inviting with visuals and manipulatives to peak
children's interest. Teachers and caregivers
should foster a caring, supportive environment
where children are encouraged to explore through
play. At home, turn off the television and silence
your cell phone; then, pull out the building
blocks, finger paints or trunk of dress-up clothes.
You'll be surprised at how much fun you'll have
while you experience your child's imaginative
little mind at work. Put away the flash cards,
mom and dad, it's time to play!
About Fairmont Private Schools
Fairmont Private Schools has six campuses throughout Orange County from preschool though 12th grade and is a recipient of the coveted Blue Ribbon of Excellence, the highest award designated to schools by the US Department of Education. 714.765.6300