Yes – that is right – keep calm and play. No matter how you “slice and dice” it, play is the way young children learn best. It is inherent, it is natural, and it is the design of optimal learning.
With early childhood education and preschool being such a hot, trending topic right now, everyone is putting his/ her hand in the pot giving his/ her two cents on what we should do to improve effectiveness and achievement. It gets overwhelming – test scores, research, assessments, common core, funding, teacher performance – being spewed from people of all walks of life – politicians, reformers, business professionals, policy makers, and yes – even educators. Being a specialist in education and development of children birth to eight, I just want to stand up and yell, “KEEP CALM AND PLAY!” Take a deep breath, relax, and just play. It is amazing what children learn in those unstructured environments – you would be surprised!
Am I saying just place children in an empty room and expect them to develop and learn? No – but when an environment is strategically planned with intentionality and purpose to promote play by a teacher knowledgeable in all domains of child development for children birth to five, it is compelling how effectively and rapidly the children learn. And what does that environment look like? More about that later …. Until then, “Keep calm and play”.