Children Need to Play

Renee Hennessy, Preschool Director

Hennessy, Preschool

This has been a busy week prepping for the Preschool Derby Races and Tea (Grandparents’/Special Friend or Visitor Day). Each class is busy creating a float for the parade, constructing horses from paper or socks, and, most importantly, deciding on names for their thoroughbreds. This will be an event that you don’t want to miss. It’s my personal favorite each year.

Painting Derby Float

Painting Derby Float

Spending time in our Preschool rooms, I’m reminded of why our program is a special place. On a typical day, you will see what to an untrained eye like a whirlwind has passed through our classrooms. Inevitably crayons, paper, and tape have made it to the floor. Wooden building blocks are stacked all around the room and were used to build towers, castles, or train tracks wherever the imaginations happened to be visiting for the day. Our teachers are busy working with children to extend their ideas and support them in making connections; many conversations are happening throughout the day. We talk about everything! Our program is one that promotes inquiry, discovery, creativity and active play. We value children, their ideas, and the process of learning. The joys of childhood are celebrated each day with friends, families and teachers.

What you won’t see are worksheets and workbooks with formal activities. In fact, what research suggests is that this type of early academic instruction can have an adverse effect on preschool-aged children. Dr. Lillian Katz, a highly respected researcher in early childhood and professor emerita at the University of Illinois, recently wrote an article about academic goals and intellectual goals for young children. She states that early childhood programs need to “provide a wide range of experiences, opportunities, resources and contexts that will provoke, stimulate, and support children’s innate intellectual dispositions.” Children need to play, make developmentally appropriate choices and investigate the world around them by asking questions and seeking answers facilitated by their teachers. With so many articles written recently about formal academics for preschool and kindergarten, I felt that it was important for me to stress the benefits of our play-based curriculum, which focuses on the social, emotional, and intellectual goals of our children. Most likely this is why you chose St. Francis Preschool — a wise choice indeed.

For more information about this topic click on Dr. Lilian Katz’s article here.