Several decades ago, early childhood experts began calling play “the work of children.” The goal was to elevate the importance of play in the minds of adults. Experts were helping teachers, parents and policymakers understand that what is happening in everyday play experiences of children is essential to healthy development.
As childcare providers work to legitimize the daily care and education of young children beyond babysitting, and advocates promote the allocation of funds in early education, we have adopted the “work” and “not play” as an essential concept of early childhood.
As I work with elementary leadership teams who are adding pre-kindergarten programs to the public school settings, the schedules often reflect teacher-directed expectations of core competencies. If play on the scheduled, it is labeled, “Work Time” or “Active Learning Time.”
It rarely is called play.
While this may seem like the work of a wordsmith, there are many unintended consequences of changing from play to work. Continue Reading