The Value of "Purposeful Play" in our Learning Environment
Stacey Behrendt, Weinreb Early Childhood Director

Do you ever get in the car at the end of a school day and ask your child, "What did you do at school today?" You will probably get the reply "I played today." This is a wonderful response! Play is an integral part of our academic curriculum in the Early Childhood. It ensures the cognitive and social emotional development of our students.

 

The Early Childhood teachers provide a rich environment that encourages reflective play. Each day, the teachers enhance our academic learning by providing hands-on manipulatives and materials that encourage and expand on our daily teacher directed learning. This week, the students in our two's program are learning about Noah's Ark. Our teachers took this wonderful opportunity to build their very own ark in the classroom. While it was exciting to see how much the children enjoyed interacting with their peers in the newly constructed ark, we know that concrete learning is created during these play scenarios.

During our Science and Discovery special, the students were able to explore and observe freshly dispatched bees under the microscope. The class discussed how these amazing creatures pollinate, communicate and make honey! The students ended their exploration about bees by tasting several kinds of honey and learning how different flowers influence the taste of this sweet ingredient. This incredible lesson soon extended to our drama play centers in the classrooms, on the playground as children pretended to be bees flying around, and in our school garden as the students planted herbs and flowers.

Purposeful Play enhances language development, social and emotional competence, creativity, imagination, confidence, and critical thinking skills. These are all important academic lessons that children will need as adults to succeed in the 21st century. The next time your child tells you they "played" at school, know they are learning valuable life lessons.