The Importance of Play in Kindergarten

The children in my Kindergarten classroom have the opportunity for indoor play every day that they come to school.  I am all too well aware of the Reading Readiness, Math, Language Arts, Science, Social Studies that I am required to teach to these young children before they leave me to go to first grade.  Let’s not forget about the required assessing, both standardized and informal that I must do along with the teaching.  However, I do have to remember that I am teaching young children with 5 year old brains.  They MUST play with others in order to learn.  The American Academy of Pediatrics says “Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. Play is important to healthy brain development. It is through play that children at a very early age engage and interact in the world around them.”  Play allows children to use their creativity to solve problems. A group of children were followed from preschool through high school. Researchers found that the complexity of playing with blocks in preschool and Kindergarten predicted kids’ mathematics achievements in high school. In particular, those who had used blocks in more sophisticated ways as preschoolers had better math grades and took more math courses (including honors classes) (Wolfgang, Stannard, & Jones, 2001). Yet year after year, I have to explain and convince parents of the importance of play in Kindergarten.  Children learn not just with paper and pencils.  Assessment comes from observing the play, and listening to the conversations.  Math is happening at the block center, language arts is happening at the art center and writing center, science is happening at the listening station followed by free art at the easels. I listen to children as they discuss with each other what we have learned in our daily focus lesson.  At play, they have the opportunity to relearn and take ownership of what has been taught and file that information away in their brains.  I have blocks in my room, and blank art paper, and lots of toys (legos, buckets of old keys, flannel board nursery rhyme stories and so much more) These toys are big hits with the 5 year old crowd and even when I should be teaching, sometimes I stop what I am doing to listen and observe ALL of the learning that is taking place right before my eyes.

reposted from 2009

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Filed under Kindergarten, Play

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