Q: When I visit my child’s kindergarten class they are always playing? Shouldn’t they be doing academics?
A: To a visitor, an early childhood class could appear to be a frenzy of activities.
Children should be engaged in lots of different activities, most of which should look like playing. It looks like lots of playing going on, because that is exactly what is happening- playing!
So, what about academics? Why aren’t the children learning?
Guess what? They are doing both. Playing and learning. More accurately they are learning through playing and that is just how it should be.
Play is the language of young children and learning is more successful for them when taught through their language. Think about it this way: Imagine a Canadian history class of German speaking adults. They only speak German, but the class is being taught in Korean. They may pick up a little bit of Canadian history over time and after great frustrations (on the part of both the students and the instructor), but everyone would be more successful if the class was taught in German- the language of the students. (Okay, an exception is when learning a foreign language.)
Now think about a group of kindergarteners huddled around a water table. On first glance they are playing. Looking closer, you see that they are experimenting with science concepts: measuring, law of gravity, conservation of matter, cause and effect, the list goes on and on! Additionally, they are exploring their social development: sharing, turn taking, group dynamics, initiating activity, exploring leadership, etc. These are all concepts that are introduced in the early childhood classroom and most successfully taught through play- the language of children.
The next time you visit your child’s class and see playing going on, know that what you are actually seeing is engaged and active learning.
Learning through play.