On the defense for play

In a blog posted this week by Valerie Strauss, author Alfie Kohn offers five intriguing propositions on play and how it has evolved to the present day, arguing that the need for pure play isn’t being met due to the rigor of the new “corporate-style school reform.”

Kohn, in a thoughtful yet somewhat provoking way, states that the point of play is that it has no point. Play is about a process, not a product. Is it this language that scares some school leaders away from play and toward a testing-based regime? 

Either way, it makes some early childhood educators, such as myself, become defensive about play and the need for more authentic play time, in and out, of the classroom.

What’s so great about play is that it can satisfy everyone involved. Children have fun, and teachers take great delight in it because although the point of play isn’t to master a skill, children may do so in the process- which is part of the joy of being an educator.

The benefits of play are monumental. While interacting with others, children can develop and grow socially and emotionally, acquire and enhance skills in areas such as addition, subtraction and language - the list goes on.

If play is so obviously important, why are more leaders allowing less “play-time” in the classroom? Tell us what you think!