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Play or Teach?

December 4, 2011

After a long break, I am back!  Or at least I hope to be.  Writing this blog helps me focus and reflect on my parenting even when I am not actively writing, yet for a while there I was just surviving.  The boys went through nap transitions from 4 to 3 and now to 2 and things were rough.  PlumGirl also started potty training and dropped her only nap just to add to the chaos.  *Knock on wood*, but I think things have settled down.  On to the post…

Going through my Google Reader this morning I came upon an interesting link shared in the Weekend Reads on Not Just Cute.  The link led to an article from the NAEYC on the Play vs. Learning Dichotomy.  I have always been a firm believer that all children, not just preschoolers, sometimes learn best through independent play and exploration.  When planning for my first graders, I always included free exploration and undirected learning into our day.

The result of this independent time was quite apparent.  Looking around the room I could almost SEE their wonderful brains at work, much more so than when I was standing in front of them directing the learning.  I also had to spend a lot less energy helping students to focus on their tasks when they were engaged in the independent learning as they were self-motivated to complete their tasks.  A superb diagram in the NAEYC article quite clearly illustrates that I was able to take a more passive role in the learning while the students were playing, whether the play was completely independent or scaffolded, because it is during play that children (and their brains) are most actively engaged.

At home, almost our entire day alternates between discovery based free play and scaffolded guided play, with little bit of “instruction” tossed in. So, far I think we have the balance the article challenges us to find.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. December 9, 2011 11:12 am

    I too have recently come upon a lot of different articles lately that are challenging my parenting styles and making me reflect. I think I do things “right” for our family/my son, but I think I also see some changes coming. Time to stop and reflect…

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