The Children at Play Network participated in an exciting community discussion about the value of play for early learning communities hosted by Sacred Heart Preschool . The program included a panel discussion that featured Claude Stephens from the CAPN and Kim Tabler from Thrive Parent and Teacher Consultants. Things kicked off with presentations by teachers that participated in multiple session professional development workshops called Play is the Way that took a deep dive into the value of play – a bit different from the more common one-off workshops that early learning teachers are more familiar with. That approach really seemed to provide the attending teachers with a deeper appreciation for the nuances of play based learning for young children.
There was great participation from Sacred Heart Preschool, Highland Presbyterian Nursery and Weekday School, and the Preschool at St. Raphael. A number of interested parents attended illustrating that it really takes the entire community to be on board with play based learning.
The informal discussion explored what schools, teachers, parents and the larger community might do to advance the value of play. Look for future Play is the Way trainings and community discussions and join in. Together we can really start to address changing the standard industrial model of education toward opportunities that really value the passions, proclivities and proficiencies that children come into the world understanding.
Here are reactions to the Play is the Way workshop series from several of the participants:
“I learned so much from this professional development series! The format of an ongoing series with a culminating event allowed me to apply the practice into my classroom, and challenged me to consistently document the exciting changes I observed. The series also allowed us, as educators, to support and share our ideas and experiences, becoming advocates of play to our greater school community. I strongly recommend this professional development to anyone interested in hearing the case for play.” -Caroline
“I enjoyed the training series model. It was helpful to start with the training at Bernheim, go back and implement what we observed, and then come back together to expand the discussions of our practice. The group discussions and brainstorming in subsequent meetings facilitated new ideas and strengthened my resolve to play.” -Christine
“I really appreciated the fact that it wasn’t a sitting training. I enjoyed that it was a group collaboration and hands on discussion. I learn best through other peoples experiences and loved learning through other teachers. Being a first year teacher helped also really enjoyed getting to know my fellow teachers ! “- Joelle
This quote from Peter Gray sums up why returning control of learning back to children is important…
“Children come into the world burning to learn and genetically programmed with extraordinary capacities for learning. They are little learning machines. Within their first four years or so they absorb an unfathomable amount of information and skills without any instruction. They learn to walk, run, jump, and climb. They learn to understand and speak the language of the culture into which they are born, and with that they learn to assert their will, argue, amuse, annoy, befriend, and ask questions. They acquire an incredible amount of knowledge about the physical and social world around them. All of this is driven by their inborn instincts and drives, their innate playfulness and curiosity. Nature does not turn off this enormous desire and capacity to learn when children turn five or six. We turn it off with our coercive system of schooling. The biggest, most enduring lesson of school is that learning is work, to be avoided when possible.” – Peter Gray – a research professor of psychology at Boston College and the Author of Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self Reliant and Better Prepared for Life
Here are some photos captured at the event that took place on April 14th, 2022.