Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Importance of Play

It is the last week of school for our little preschoolers. They have grown considerably in this one year of school with new structures and new friends in their lives. With the thought of three months of unstructured time, parents might be worried that the lack of organization will put their child at risk when September and school comes again.

Actually, just the opposite may be true. I am reading a document from an organization called the Alliance for Childhood. It is a short book, just published in March of this year. It contains research about kindergarten structures and calls for administrators to support practices in kindergarten that value and promote children's self-motivation to play.

No Child Left Behind has left play behind. It has downplayed the value of play in favor of teaching to the test of academic standards. When this happens, the child's innate ability to want to learn is severely curtailed.

What's a parent to do? In the short term, meaning this summer, try not to over structure activities for your children. Join them in play when you can, letting them take the lead in spinning richly imaginative stories. Let your children spend their summer in play. In the long term, be an active supporter of play in school next year. Let your child's teacher know that you support play in the kindergarten classroom and let administrators and the school board know about the book, Crisis in the Kindergarten: Why Children Need to Play in School. I will place a link to the pdf file on the website.

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