School’s out for summer! Congratulations on wrapping up another year of incredibly hard work, commitment to your students and an enriching year of learning for you. Time to rest, right? Well, sort of, if we know you. Summer is time spent out of the classroom, but hardly any teachers exists who are not already mentally planning their classroom for next year or learning something new to apply with their students in the fall. To encourage your summer learning, the School Literacy and Culture team will be sharing a few of our favorite professional texts throughout the summer that we are currently reading or have on our professional bookshelf.
The first book we’re reading this summer is called, A Mandate for Playful Learning in Preschool: Presenting the Evidence by Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, Laura E. Berk and Dorothy G. Singer. The authors state in the Executive Summary, “Play has become a four-letter word. In an effort to give children a head start on academic skills such as reading and mathematics, play is discouraged and didactic learning is stressed. This book presents the scientific evidence in support of three points: (1) children need both unstructured free play and playful learning under the gentle guidance of adults to best prepare them for entrance into formal school, (2) academic and social development are so inextricably intertwined that the former must not trump the latter, and (3) learning and play are not incompatible – learning takes place best when children are engaged and enjoying themselves.”
That’s right – this book is packed full of the research to support each of these statements. You’ll find facts like these: When reading electronic books with three year olds, 41 percent of the parent’s talk time was managing the child’s behavior using the piece of technology and 59 percent of the parent’s talk time was about the story itself. When reading traditional books with three year olds a whopping 92 percent of parent’s talk time was about the story! Imagine the impact on a child’s comprehension of the text when a traditional book is used versus an electronic book. Interested in learning about the three types of play that researchers most often discuss? Object play, pretend play and physical play are all explained in detail here, emphasizing the critical importance of each type in a child’s school and home experience.
If we haven’t convinced you to start reading this book yet, consider this quote from the text, “Literacy rests on an oral language foundation.” And how is a child’s oral language best developed? Through play! And there is extensive research to support this statement in these chapters.
Join us in reading, “A Mandate for Playful Learning in Preschool: Presenting the Evidence”, and tell us what you think. It is through educating ourselves as teachers and leaders on the imperativeness of play in early childhood that we can return play to its rightful place in the classroom.
Authored by Jordan Khadam-Hir, Rice University School Literacy and Culture