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Play, Emergent Curriculum, and School Readiness

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In Building on Emergent Curriculum: The Power of Play for School Readiness, Sarah Vanover, EdD, shares how teachers can help explain to families why adding more play to their days is the most important way to prepare their children for school.  

 

“Families frequently ask teachers for advice on how to practice literacy and numeracy at home, often expecting to receive recommendations for workbooks,” says Sarah Vanover, EdD, author of Building on Emergent Curriculum: The Power of Play for School Readiness. However,  preschoolers do not need to sit down and practice writing letters or numbers on worksheets; they need more time for experiential learning through play

“When children are encouraged to play at school and at home, play becomes a regular part of their lives, and their play skills increase dramatically. To provide that consistent encouragement, teachers may need to offer families play suggestions in regular newsletters or through a classroom website or social-media page.”

Dr. Vanover reiterates the importance of communication with families to help them understand why adding more play to their days is the most important way to prepare their children for school.

“The key idea to express to families is that children can prepare for school at home without completing worksheets. Families should focus on having interactive conversations with children and, at times, on helping children make their creativity tangible.”

For example: 

  • A mother can have a back-and-forth conversation with her child in the car about why the child enjoys living in a place with cold winters and what things the child enjoys that happen in cold weather. 
  • A father can ask his child to count the geese flying over their car while it sits at a stop sign. 
  • A grandmother can help her granddaughter design a pillow fort in the living room and then help the granddaughter discover why the right side of the fort keeps falling down and how to fix it. 

“All of these interactions address school-readiness skills, and children are more likely to participate in a conversation or playtime experience than they are to sit down at a table and do a worksheet after a long day of playing and learning at school.”

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