Presentation (Project) Title

The Relationship Between Play and Learning in Early Childhood Education

Mentor Information

Ilene Berson (College of Education)

Presentation Format

Event

Abstract

Many respected educators assert that play is the work of the child. Yet, in recent years the push-down of academic content curriculum has derailed educators from the developmentally appropriate practices that children benefit from most. Time for play has been decreasing drastically in the last decade despite research confirming the vast benefits it offers to young children. Rather than isolating play and learning into two separate parts of the school day, children should have integrated opportunities for them to support one another. In order to measure the effects of this practice, our research question is “If children are given opportunities to play with teacher support, then how would that play affect their learning?” In order to find the solution, our research group collected data from 3 early childhood classrooms of varying ages from VPK to 2nd grade. This allowed us to compare not only the ease of integration of play into academics among different ages, but also see how the different kinds of play (free play, guided play, teacher-directed play...etc.) impacted student learning on a continuum. Data were collected through a variety of authentic assessment sources, such as storyboards, images, and children’s work samples. Through our research and prior studies, it is clear that play positively impacts children’s learning by promoting sustained periods of exploration that create excitement around learning rather than stress. As educators, it is our responsibility to provide students with both meaningful and engaging developmentally appropriate lessons while still meeting the rising expectations children face today.

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The Relationship Between Play and Learning in Early Childhood Education

Many respected educators assert that play is the work of the child. Yet, in recent years the push-down of academic content curriculum has derailed educators from the developmentally appropriate practices that children benefit from most. Time for play has been decreasing drastically in the last decade despite research confirming the vast benefits it offers to young children. Rather than isolating play and learning into two separate parts of the school day, children should have integrated opportunities for them to support one another. In order to measure the effects of this practice, our research question is “If children are given opportunities to play with teacher support, then how would that play affect their learning?” In order to find the solution, our research group collected data from 3 early childhood classrooms of varying ages from VPK to 2nd grade. This allowed us to compare not only the ease of integration of play into academics among different ages, but also see how the different kinds of play (free play, guided play, teacher-directed play...etc.) impacted student learning on a continuum. Data were collected through a variety of authentic assessment sources, such as storyboards, images, and children’s work samples. Through our research and prior studies, it is clear that play positively impacts children’s learning by promoting sustained periods of exploration that create excitement around learning rather than stress. As educators, it is our responsibility to provide students with both meaningful and engaging developmentally appropriate lessons while still meeting the rising expectations children face today.