“Do we have measures for how imaginative or creative a child is?” asked Amanda Morgan, early childhood expert and creator of Not Just Cute, a whole child development resource for teachers and parents, as she spoke with more than 100 local early educators. “Too often, we only value what we can measure.”
As part of Teaching with Intention and Powerful Play, a professional development workshop presented by Childcare Resources and funded by Indian River County Children’s Services Advisory Committee and PNC, educators explored how to use intention to frame classroom activities and how to promote learning through the use of play.
Despite an increasing emphasis on academics, young children learn best in a playful environment. Current research indicates that play can help with anxiety and depression and also promotes the practice of social skills.
“Too often, there are conversations that lead people to believe they have to choose between learning and play,” Mrs. Morgan emphasized. “Research tells us that the best learning happens through play, because, in a playful learning environment, children get to construct knowledge.”
When discussing the importance of intention, Mrs. Morgan asked each educator to examine the ‘why’ behind the classroom activities they plan. In small groups, educators considered how they currently support one of the eight aspects of whole childhood development, reviewing creativity, motor skills, literacy, and more.
“We need to know our why, because it changes how we do what we do,” said Mrs. Morgan. “We need to be able to communicate our why so that others can see the value in what we are doing.”