Why Learning Through Play is the way to go…

The transition from preschool to Kindergarten has many parents worried these days. Parents want their children “ready.” After all, why spend the money on preschool if your child is not going to be prepared for Kindergarten? Right?!
The real question, though, is define “ready.”
Immediately, most parents would define readiness as children knowing their letters and numbers, colors and shapes. The academic nuts and bolts.
But, think about this: How would a Kindergarten teacher define readiness, or more specifically, what skills would s/he want to see in a child entering Kindergarten?
Knowing letters and numbers? Helpful!
Reading? Wow! Some children do enter Kindergarten reading, but most don’t.

How about self-care skills? Can they manage in the bathroom by themselves? Can they dress themselves and manage zippers and buttons independently?
What about social skills? Can they share toys? Take turns? Use their words to solve conflicts?
Can they exhibit self-control and sit and attend to a story?
Can they follow multi-step directions?
Do they separate easily from their parents and enjoy the school setting?
Whew! This list could go on…and every skill is important.

So how DO we prepare a child for Kindergarten?
Exposure and Practice. Lots of it.
That is why, at KT, our students are currently blasting off to the moon in their astronaut suits, “writing” in the Captain’s Log, and sorting moon rocks by size, asteroids by color, and matching planets. While they were “playing,” they just had the opportunity to practice self-care and fine more skills, and to sort by size, color, and shape.
Children are active learners, they learn through doing, and learn best when as many senses as possible are engaged. In our classroom, children are immersed in activities containing letters and numbers, colors and shapes, related to whatever unit we are studying at the time. The books, games, and manipulatives change with our themes, but the basic concepts remain the same, allowing for repeated practice.

So is following a “Learning Through Play” philosophy a 3-hour playtime? No.
Is there free-play time? Absolutely.

The difference is, while the students are playing, teachers are right there with them, engaging them in more complex play, asking questions, and modeling turn-taking and sharing.
We also have circle time, stories, art projects, science experiments, and snack time.  Yes, even snack time is a time to learn! Children assist with handing out napkins (1 to 1 correspondence practice), passing out snack, and are responsible for cleaning up when they are finished. It’s also a great time to practice good manners and sharing in conversation.

At KT, we are confident a “Learning Through Play” philosophy is the way to go, but don’t just take my word for it. I urge you to educate yourself. This is your child’s start to a lifetime of learning.
Here are a few links to get you started:
http://www.earlychildhoodnews.com/earlychildhood/article_view.aspx?ArticleID=591
http://www.naeyc.org/play
http://www.imaginationplayground.com/images/content/2/9/2963/crisis-in-kindergarten.pdf
https://oldweb.naeyc.org/ece/2001/05.asp

Keep Playing!

~Suzanne