Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Reflections on "The Power of Play"

I am reading and reflecting on the book The Power of Play by David Elkind. This is my recap as I think about what I've read and how what I'd like to take from this book.

Whenever I begin reading a book, I have certain expectations, especially a nonfiction book. As I heard about this book, read the blurbs about it, and just drew from the title and cover, I expected this book to be more about play and how it contributes to learning. I really expected this book to be more about what I should do as an adult to help kids play and learn. I guess I was expecting this book to be either more practical or have tenets that I could readily apply to my classroom. This is not that book.

This book is definitely a more philosophical than I expected. But it has certainly added more to my thinking. Here are some key things I'd like to remember from this book and integrate into my own personal philosophy about teaching/learning...things that will impact my classroom from now on.

1. The interplay of play, work, and love in development and learning. For younger kids, play is most important. As they get older, the interplay changes but play is always a factor, throughout life.

2. It is impossible for adults to put themselves in the mind of preschoolers. Preschoolers think differently from adults. We must allow them to make choices and explore as they need. We must follow their lead and allow them to develop the foundations of understanding they need.

3. Until children reach the age of reason--age 6 or 7--they cannot really understand rules. When they understand rules, they can then understand literacy, math, and science (all governed by "rules"). Until that time, they need to play to build conceptual understanding. Play is more important in early childhood education than formal instruction.

There are a lot of other ideas that are floating around in my head (and in my notes) that will impact my future thinking. This book led me to unexpected thinking and helped tie some different strands together.

And this is my favorite quote--
"Of all the educational models, the early childhood model is the one that is most in keeping with the new reality.... Although it seems counterintuitive, quality early childhood education should be the model for education at all levels."
Play is powerful - for all ages.

(Now...on to my next book - whatever that will be.)
Next book: Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess

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