Preparing Children for School Through Play
Preparing children for school is a challenging, but necessary task for parents. All parents want their children to do well in school, but starting school is a huge milestone in a child’s development, and not every parent knows how to help their kids with school success. Tackling this concept of preparing a child for school may seem intimidating but it is very important.
The concept of school readiness typically refers to the child’s attainment of a certain set of emotional, behavioral, and cognitive skills needed to learn, work, and function successfully in school. Unfortunately, this common philosophy of being ready for school places an undue burden on children by expecting them to meet the expectations of school. A more constructive way to consider school readiness is to remove the expectations from the child and place those expectations onto the schools and the families. Young children have wide ranging needs and require support in preparing them for the high standards of learning they will face in elementary school. There are different ways that parents and early education instructors use to help the child become school ready and play is key component in this area. The quantity and quality of play all effects the ending result of becoming ready for school. In general, play can be defined as unstructured peer interaction but it can also be defined on a functional or structural level. Play is the fundamental means by which children gather and process information, learn new skills, and practice old ones. Play becomes purposeful when children’s potential for learning is enhanced while people and the addition of objects can heighten these attributes. For example, children engage in collaborative interactions as they negotiate resources, share ideas, and have conversations. Purposeful play enables children to develop social–emotional skills that are explained in some state standards as problem solving and cooperation. Children develop problem-solving skills as well as learn to help others as they attempt to meet their own needs. In all, play helps develop very important skills that children need in order to be successful in school like controlling emotions, behaviors and though processes. “My Magic Story Car: Video-Based Play Intervention to Strengthen Emergent Literacy of At-Risk Preschoolers” by Harvey F. Bellen and Dorothy G. Singer goes in to great detail and does a good job of explaining the critical aspects and the importance of play in pre-kindergarten education. The program described in the article is designed for low-income families to help strengthen the emergent literacy skills that are developing in the children. Children who come from low socioeconomic backgrounds are at more risk of not being school ready when they need to be. Children from this economic class are usually lacking the development skills needed due to the poor quality of language interactions with the caregivers. The Magic Story Car program interweaved make-believe play as a major part of the program. The make-believe play was used as a source for motivating and engaging the preschoolers in the various learning activities. The article does explain that there are more effective ways to learn and prepare a child for school. Instead of building the skills needed for school through tactical worksheets and packets, it is more effective to build the various skills through play. The narratives that the children were telling whilst in this make-believe play had a great impact on their development. The play is not only effective for the child but it also helps the adult as well. Adults gain many meaningful skills as well while fostering the child’s play. “Through play, children practice vocabulary and new ways to express themselves. They verbalize plot sequences with increasingly complex situations that often evoke correcting responses from adults or peers” (p. 102, Bellen & Singer). All