Why Play Based Learning?
Learning & Play
What does it mean to be a young child? What experiences do we want to give our children?
When we remember our own childhood, what memories do we treasure most? Building a secret fort in the woods. Digging for ‘dinosaur bones’. Making up the rules for a game with a group of friends. When we look at the memories that have shaped our young lives, we find a common theme. They are the times that we had the freedom to create, explore and play. These experiences were formative and essential for our development as autonomous, creative, socially sophisticated human beings.
In our culture there is an increasing pressure for parents to ‘prepare’ their children for school. This often means the memorization of rote skills: the recognition of letters and numerals and the completion of worksheets and timetables. While the recognition of symbols can be a joyous experience if the desire comes from within the child, current research demonstrates that these skills do not predict school success. Instead, it is the ability to work with others successfully and autonomously, or Social Emotional Learning, that is the greatest indicator.
Social Emotional Learning is what happens when three children decide to build a fort together. Where should it be built? What materials should be used? What if the builders do not agree? In our classrooms, conflicts are opportunities for children to practice expressing their needs, listening to the needs of others, and brainstorming creative solutions to problems. Teachers guide children through the process of conflict resolution, teaching and reinforcing techniques of compassionate communication, in the classroom. With regular practice children gain the skill and confidence to negotiate and solve problems on their own.
A commitment to play in the classroom supports the social, emotional, cognitive and physical well being of children. It develops their visual sense, language capacity, as well as honing fine and gross motor skills. Play is a natural tool for the development of resiliency, cooperation, and self confidence. Through play children overcome challenges, learn to control impulses and develop their creativity.
The Waldorf Approach
The Waldorf tradition deeply inspires our approach to play based learning. It influences the materials we use: flexible, natural toys that inspire creative use. It shapes the rhythm of our day and inspires our use of music, oral storytelling and puppetry. The Waldorf approach is evident in our connection to the natural world and our commitment to process based art. It guides our belief that the wonder and magic of childhood is an experience that should be preserved and honored.
Rising Song began with informal meetings in 2007. Our dream was to create a school that was small, beautiful, and nurturing. We also wanted to create a sustainable and inspired job for ourselves and our employees. Long, caffeine fueled conversations gave way to planning and building and in September 2009 our dream became a reality. As the years have passed we have worked to improve and hone our vision to build a connected community that honors the needs of children, teachers, and parents alike. We feel very grateful to have the opportunity to do this special, heart centered work, guiding families through their first experiences of school, supporting and celebrating the astonishing period of growth and change that is unique to early childhood.