When a person walks into our school they can’t help but notice the children playing. People typically comment how nice it would be to play all day. I usually nod and agree; knowing full well that I will have the opportunity to help that person understand what is happening as children play. By the time they leave Knight Hall they will have learned that imbedded in all of that play is learning. They will learn that each and every material is in the classroom for a specific reason and quite possibly for a specific child. Once people understand that “play is the work of the child” – Maria Montessori, they begin to understand the importance and that not only is it nice, it’s necessary!
Each fall I find that I spend a lot of time helping perspective families understand why Knight Hall School is so deeply entrenched in the belief that a child must have the opportunity to learn through rich, thoughtful play experiences. I have learned that families what their child(ren) to be happy and have the opportunity to play. However, they find themselves worrying about early reading and writing. The social pressures tend to outweigh their own inner understanding of their child.
I get the question; “how do you get my child ready for kindergarten?” or “How do you teach my child to read?”. My response is typically; ” We don’t”. Our job, as early childhood educators is to help a child be the best they can possibly be for where they are developmentally at that moment. If we get a child ready to be the best 3 year old they can be then they will becoming the best 4 year old they can be and that in turn will allow them to be ready for kindergarten and all that comes with that stage of development. We build the foundation for reading, writing and math concepts. It’s because they have a quality early childhood education that they become active and interested learners. It’s because they are engaged with early childhood professionals that they have the opportunity do be involved in constant research projects!
Books on my shelf:
A Child’s Work: The Importance of Fantasy Play – Vivian Gussin Paley
Loose Parts: Inspiring Play in Young Children – Miriam Beglovsky
Beautiful Stuff!: Learning With Found Materials – Cathy Weisman