Why Play Is Important in Preschool Classrooms

“If you want your preschooler to be ready for the academic rigors ahead, forget about the curriculum. Instead, look for a classroom that lets children learn the way they do best…

“‘For kids under 5, play is the foundation for creativity, constructive problem solving, self-regulation, and learning as a whole,’ says Susan Linn, cofounder of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and author of The Case for Make Believe. Play also helps preschoolers master the skills they’ll need for academic subjects later on. Storytime advances pre-reading skills like rhyming, wordplay, and the ability to follow a plot. A simple activity like playing with soap bubbles can stimulate science learning, while building with blocks establishes a foundation for understanding geometry. Repetitive play (such as putting a puzzle together, taking it apart, and then reassembling it) hones motor acuity, while unstructured group play boosts kids’ social skills…

“An early academic approach doesn’t seem to improve classroom performance. A study from the University of North Florida, in Jacksonville, found that fourth-graders who have attended play-based preschools outperform fellow students both academically and socially. And a study published in Early Childhood Research & Practice found clear links between pretend play and enhanced language ability. Your child’s future success in school doesn’t hinge on your enrolling him in a pre-K that teaches him to add and subtract or know the chemical formula for water. It’s more productive to find a program that lets him have fun as he learns.”

To read the entire article, go to parents.com.


What’s the rush?

Children learn when they are left alone to explore their environment at their own pace. Downey Preschool believes in child-led, play-based learning, and for a good reason. What’s the rush? Check out the entirety of this lovely blog post at http://happinessishereblog.com/.

I won’t say ‘hurry up’, when you’ve stopped to smell the flowers.

I won’t rush you when you’re admiring the shape of the clouds.

I’ll let you lead me away to show me that interesting bug.

You’ll join in with what I’m doing, and we’ll go at your pace.

I’ll delight in the world, just like you do.

You’re learning, and I’m learning too.

This is important. This here is what life is really about. Thank you for showing me that.

from “Childhood: Why the Rush”

Some advantages of play-based preschool

“Researchers have found that children who attend preschools that emphasize direct instruction experience more stress at school. At ages five and six, children from academic-type preschools knew more letters and numbers than their peers who attended nonacademic preschools, but by first grade those advantages had disappeared. Researchers have also found that children from academically oriented preschools are less creative and less enthusiastic about learning than their peers who attended nonacademic preschools. And here’s the clincher: Kids who attend academic preschools may also, in the long run, do more poorly in school, and those kinds of schools may be handicapping boys in a way we could not have anticipated.”

from “The Trouble with Boys: A Surprising Report Card on Our Sons, Their Problems at School, and What Parents and Educators Must Do” by Peg Tyre

Play-based versus academic school settings

This is a good jumping-off point for discussion of an important topic.

“The Case for the New Kindergarten: Challenging and Playful” by Daphna Bassok, Amy Claessens, and Mimi Engel

“Academic instruction in early-childhood classrooms is often framed as inherently at odds with “child-centered,” “developmentally appropriate,” or “play-based” practices. This presumed dichotomy—that preschool and kindergarten must either be geared toward play and socioemotional development or focused on rigorous academic instruction—is false.”