Playing Equals Learning for Preschoolers

posted 10/18/19 -- A typical scene in a Head Start classroom would include children playing in the block area, while others gather in the dramatic play area to cook and serve meals.

“They are having fun playing,” observers may think, “but when does the learning happen?”

Learning is happening all around the room! The children in the block area are measuring, counting, comparing and estimating, just to name a few skills. In the dramatic play area, the children are cooperating, using imagination, working through real life scenarios, resolving conflicts and self-regulating. Additionally, they are all building vocabulary and conversational skills.

As this play happens, the teachers circulate through the room, ask questions and make comments to encourage higher order thinking. The children are supported as they test out theories and try new things. For preschool children, play is learning and is their work.

Parents should en-courage preschoolers to play each day. In the words of Lawrence K. Frank, a founder of the Child Development Movement:

“ the way the child learns what no one can teach him. It is the way he explores and orients himself to the actual world of space and time, of things, animals, structures and people. Through play the child practices and rehearses endlessly the complicated and subtle patterns of human living and communication which he must master if he is to become a participating adult in our social life.”