Another group of students is building with blocks on the floor. They are working together to build a tall tower. Another teacher is asking probing questions like, “how many blocks do you have stacked so far?” and “what will happen if we stack another block?”
As a naive bystander, you wonder if the kids here are really learning anything? I mean, aren’t they just playing? What are the teachers doing just playing with them? You start to wonder if preschool is really worth the money you are paying for it.
As a parent, you may have had an encounter similar to this one. Maybe you were touring schools wondering what to look for in a preschool. Perhaps you saw this as you watched your child at preschool prior to pick-up time.
As adults, we often have preconceived notions about what “schooling” should look like and include. Doesn’t preschool mean a teacher in front of a group of kids instructing them in the ways of ABC’s and 123’s? What is often missed is the subtlety of how children learn and the beauty of children’s development. Research and real-life experience tell us that all people learn best when they are actively engaged with whatever it is they are learning. This is especially the case for young children.
And what engaged kids more than anything else? Play! Although kids can learn through worksheets and flashcards, the lessons that benefit them the most and that they will keep in their little brains for years to come are those learned through hands-on engagement, which usually happens through play.
In her new book, The Most Important Year: Pre-Kindergarten and the Future of Our Children, author Suzanne Bouffard brings to light these issues of learning, play, and child development. As I mentioned on my Facebook Live last week, this book is must-read information if you have a child approaching pre-K age…here’s why:
** Packed with research, but still approachable. It takes real skill to pack lots of research into a book and it does not sound like a textbook. However, Suzanne Bouffard does it! She uses a wonderful storytelling style and incorporates the top research in the field in such a way that it’s enjoyable to read. You feel like you are just following along with a few families as they visit preschools. After reading this, you will know what to look for in a preschool.
** Why education policy matters. I think many parents struggle with understanding how national education policy and funding affects their local schools. This book explains in real-life examples how national policies towards early education and K-12 education impacts preschools in our country. If you want insight into how schools in lower SES neighborhoods struggle or why staffing in preschools is so difficult, this opens the door to all those issues.
The Value of Play-Based Learning (at School or Home)
This video explains the benefits of play for learning:
Hopefully, you will find this aspect of the book helpful as well and gain confidence in your ability to parent your preschooler in such a way that incorporates a bit of playful learning.
Are you searching for a preschool or pre-K program for your child soon? Not sure what to look for?
Sign up and download this FREE Parent’s Guide to Pre-K. Take it with you on your preschool tour!
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