Besides providing nutritious food, immunizations and a safe environment, it is also important to children’s health that we provide them opportunities for creative play. I have felt strongly about this for many years and am gratified that the American Academy of Pediatrics, the NC Department of Public Instruction, and the National Association of Educators of Young Children, as well as a host of brain researchers, psychologists and child development experts have all issued statements agreeing that play is not merely important, it is ESSENTIAL for children’s healthy growth and development.
Not only does it improve learning, it also improves behavior, because play actually creates physical growth in areas of the brain related to self-regulation, motivation, creativity, divergent thinking, problem-solving and memory. However, because of the current political emphasis on accountability, many schools feel that rather than focusing on long-term brain development they must concentrate on teaching specific skills geared toward passing a particular test.
I am currently on a personal mission to bring play back to kindergarten.
I have sent copies of research on the importance of play to our local school board members and legislators in Raleigh and Washington, and have spoken about it with everyone I know who is at all willing to listen. If you agree that children need time for play in kindergarten, to benefit their growth and development in all areas, I encourage you to let your voice be heard. Children cannot speak for themselves on this issue. It is up to us to speak for them. If you are interested in receiving information on how to contact decision-makers to express your interest in kindergarten play and/or reading about the research around this topic, please leave a comment and I will post contact information and links to articles.