Recent news continues to highlight the increasing demands on teachers, students and families during the first year of school. Kindergarten is the "New First Grade" has been said many times during the past few years, however increased academic expectations can be met with developmentally appropriate instructional strategies…play included. The benefits of play in the new first grade are seen throughout a child’s day in multiple domains.
1. Development of the whole child. Play-based activities reach a wide scope and sequence of skills. From critical thinking to problem solving skills-students have a very concrete and motivating way to learn the foundation skills that will support their learning K-12 and beyond.
2. Reaches the diverse learning styles of our students. Play is a universal language. I have observed students of all native languages interact together at a sensory table with water and sink/float activities. We don’t always need our words to learn-but for our students who thrive in modes of learning that incorporate kinesthetic and visual activities- play can be the spark that supports more meaningful understanding of concepts.
3. Opportunities for development of oral language skills. So much research has come out in regards to the importance of meaningful talk time for our early learners. Playful learning offers intentional opportunities for students to enhance their vocabulary skills, while having student models and teacher facilitation of conversations....