Children sit next to each other on a classroom carpet. One child has her hand extended, thumb raised.

Coach's
Column

Susan Roberts

Susan Roberts

March 1, 2022

We hope you enjoyed our recent workshop, Teaching with Intention and Powerful Play featuring Amanda Morgan. Have you noticed a common thread running through the professional development presented by Childcare Resources? We are focusing on learning developmental milestones and best strategies for working with our youngest children, ages birth through pre-kindergarten.


Amanda Morgan presented play as the method and learning as the outcome for young children. Both can and should be done! Play based education is the balance between guided play and free play. Again, both can and should be done!


The children you teach have a large variety of developmental needs which, if met, will help them grow into their full potential. The developmental differences in very young children span a wide range. The focus is on all children and the whole child. Preschool children and younger should play to learn just as kindergarten to third grade learn to read and fourth graders on up read to learn.


The learning experiences you as a teacher present to your children need to be rich in content and possibilities. A workbook page or worksheet cannot take the place of experiencing the learning. Guided play experiences encourage children to take in new information and practice skills so they can reach their developmental potential for entry into kindergarten and more formal schooling.


If you have visitors in your classroom who make a comment about the “play” going on be sure to enlighten them about the purpose of the play.


Point out:

  • That the children painting are mixing primary colors (and discovering what new colors they can make).

  • That the child at the sand table is strengthening her fine motor skills by finding square objects in the sand and picking them out with a tong. (She is also learning the difference between round and square).

  • That the baby reaching for the toy is just learning how to crawl. The teacher is enticing him with a new toy (and describing the toy to expand his vocabulary.)

By explaining the purpose of play you are becoming an advocate of the power of play for enhancing brain development, learning, mental health, and social skills.

Preschool: Play to Learn; K-3rd Grade: Learn to Read; 4th Grade+: Read to Learn
"Play is often talked about as though it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of Childhood" - Fred Rogers