This Op-Ed piece from the New York Times comments on the recent curriculum reforms proposed by the Obama administration in support of play. The author, Susan Engel, director of the teaching program at Williams College, articulates what so many educators know, and so few legislators understand.
The statement that really struck me:
“During the school day, there should be extended time for play. Research has shown unequivocally that children learn best when they are interested in the material or activity they are learning. Play — from building contraptions to enacting stories to inventing games — can allow children to satisfy their curiosity about the things that interest them in their own way. It can also help them acquire higher-order thinking skills, like generating testable hypotheses, imagining situations from someone else’s perspective and thinking of alternate solutions.”
As Rudolf Steiner stated, imaginative play in early childhood is the basis for creative thinking later in life. And as all Waldorf early childhood educators know, play is a young child’s work.