Preschool isn’t just about play
Children expected to reach kindergarten with certain skills
By KURT MOORE
The Marion Star

I came across this article while preparing to present an inservice session to a group of preschool teachers.  And, as a pre-kindergarten teacher, I found it most enlightening.  According to Mr. Moore’s piece, federal and state (Ohio) governments are more willing to fund preschool programs that have more of a focus on the academic end of learning, and not merely on play.  In fact, I was left with the impression that academics were pushing “playtime” into a very minor role in the classroom.

I have an issue with this.  A BIG issue.

Don’t get me wrong.  In my prekindergarten class, children learn the alphabet, and last year I even had a child who was busy plugging through early readers on his own.  We all learn to write, and since my minor is math, you can bet there is a lot of counting, sorting, ordering and classifying going on as well.

And I do it through PLAY.  Children’s play can open up so many opportunities for learning.  The boys are building a block tower; they are working on spatial awareness, balance, teamwork, and I even manage to throw in a bit of counting and measuring.  A group of girls are playing in the sensory tub filled with, of all things, gack; they are measuring, describing, creating and exploring volume.  Another group of students are in the art center, making cards for their friends and family.  They are writing, creating, testing their ability to communicate through writing in a safe and fun way.

The point is, all of my kids are learning and in huge strides – just ask their parents.  But, the kids don’t always know that what they are doing IS learning.  They see it as that four-letter word, play.  Learning should be fun; play is at the heart of a young child’s ability to understand and comprehend what is going on around him or her.

When you take “play” out of a young child’s hands, you lose a major piece of their childhood.  What happened to the days of paper dolls and circle games?  When did playdough become a thing of the past?

I am not saying that our preschools are taking “play” away from our children, but I can see where many will read the article linked above and see that as the “new childhood” – all work, no play.  And we all know that makes for a very dull boy.