“There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in.” – Deepak Chopra
If you haven’t read the New York Times’ article on the play movement, you should and can do it here: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/06/garden/06play.html?_r=2
Play is so vital for children (and I think for adults as well)! In special education, we use it to help children work on their IEP goals and objectives. Intervention models such as Stanley Greenspan’s Floortime (http://www.icdl.com/dirFloortime/overview/index.shtml) are play-based. If you have never witnessed a child truly in the midst of a meaningful, purposeful play experience, it is magical!
I can still vividly remember games that my brothers and I made up when we were younger. Games that involved forts, imagination, scavenger hunts, balloons, and cardboard boxes. Sure I remember the Atari and Nintendo games we played, but the memories of our play are much more vivid. Actually, I can still remember experiences from when I myself was in preschool 20 some years ago. I remember the balance beams, going on nature walks by the pond, when the zoo brought a snake in (that seemed so large, we all sat in a line and held him), the way the snake felt, snack, the block area, and the boat that could also be a bridge.
What I do not remember from my preschool years is pressure to write my name, know my colors, read, or count. I am sure my teachers embedded those things into play experiences and the environment when I was READY for them, but they did not force them down my throat. Guess what? I still learned them and I think I turned out okay even though I did not have the “kindergarten readiness” drill routines. Believe it or not, I was in National Honors Society in high school, went to an outstanding private college, earned a 4.0 in graduate school, and passed my Masters comprehensive examination “With Distinction”.
To this day, I still have kids who come up to me and remember things they did 4 years ago in my classroom when they were in preschool. There have been a lot of teachers and experiences between when they were my student (though I always think of them as my students, even after they have gone to a different grade) and now, but SOMETHING they did in my room still stands out. The beauty of it is that it is different for each child. You never know what day or experience will be a memory that they keep with them, what experience will form a building block for the rest of their life; which is why it is vital that EVERY DAY and all of the little things that make up that day, COUNT!
Until the next time…