Essay on Play Based Early Childhood Curriculum 2

Submitted By brisana581
Words: 1432
Pages: 6

Play Based Early Childhood Curriculum

More and more academic performance and standardized testing has become the focus of school systems. Recess, physical fitness programs, art and other subjects are being deemed "extracurricular" and are being cut back or cut all together to focus on areas that are included on standardized tests. As a result a trickle down effect has taken place and from a very young age children are expected to complete worksheets and other teacher-led learning activities for a better part of the day. Early childhood educators are feeling the pressure for school readiness and children's classroom play is being de-emphasized. Play is necessary for success in school and removing play from early childhood education programs will actually undermine the intended outcomes of achievement oriented programs. The acquisition of literacy, numeracy, self regulation, and other cognitive competencies are crucial during early childhood and without a strong foundation will make it difficult for higher order learning to occur later on, when it is developmentally appropriate. Research indicates that preschool models with substantial play components lead to academic outcomes that are at least equivalent and, in most cases, greater than those of direct instructional models (Schweinhart). A longitudinal investigation of High Scope, a play based preschool curriculum, concluded that children attending a High Scope classroom for a single year were found to have higher levels of academic and social competence in later childhood and adolescence than those not attending preschool (Schweinhart). At the age of 40 the children involved in the High Scope study showed higher earnings, higher employment rates, fewer incarcerations, and higher educational attainment. A play based curriculum does not mean children are left to their own devices for long periods of time with little to no guidance. Play based learning in early childhood is about learning science and math through discovery and developing language skills, social skills, self-help skills, fine and gross motor skills through meaningful play activities. When planning a play based curriculum educators act as facilitators and capitalize on children's play to further development and improve skills through a less structured approach. Young children learn through their five senses. Children need to be able to touch, feel, smell, see, and taste. Children are not able to accomplish this while sitting at a desk completing a worksheet with predetermined answers. Well known Swiss cognitive psychologist Jean Piaget is quoted with writing "The principal goal of education is to create individuals who are capable of doing new things, not simply of repeating what other generations have done." Through a play based curriculum children are able to make discoveries and are allowed to inquire, be creative and collaborate. The use of worksheets is unfortunately becoming more and more common in early childhood education programs. In some cases early childhood programs and teachers who use worksheets believe the worksheets are demonstrating children's learning progress to parents. In the article "The Worksheet Dilemma: Benefits of Play-Based Curricula" the author, Sue Grossman, Ph.D, states that worksheets activities are not developmentally appropriate and can cause many problems. Worksheets typically have a "right" and a "wrong" answer and children may quickly learn that putting down a wrong answer is emotionally costly (Grossman). Children may learn to stop taking risks by guessing for fear of feeling incompetent. Problem solving involves an element of risk and if we want children to learn to solve problems we must create safe environments in which they feel confident

taking risks, making mistakes, learning from them, and trying again (Dimidjian). The mere accomplishment of the worksheet task does not signify the child's ability to read or comprehend (Grossman). In a play-based curriculum,