|YOUNG CHILDREN | May 2014|
|Viewpoint. Holding on to Play: Reflecting on Experiences As a Playful K–3 Teacher|
|by Lisa D. Wood|
Play and learning through play form the foundation of who I am as an early childhood professional. It has been my joy and honor to work and play with children, families, teachers, and communities throughout my career. My own childhood was full of play; it is a part of me, a part of my life story that I happily carry with me to this day.
Play is important for brain, cognitive, linguistic, physical, psychological, and social-emotional development and well-being. It is also a vitally important basic human need, with transformative potential (Sutton-Smith 1997; Brown & Vaughan 2009). For these reasons, the intersection of play and developmentally appropriate practice has guided my philosophy as both learner and teacher—first as a preschool teacher, then as a teacher in public school K–3 classrooms, and now as an instructor of undergraduate students studying early childhood education. I have spent the past few years enthusiastically exploring play, the theory and research behind it, and its relationship to curriculum and practice. What did I learn?
Well, much like Robert Fulghum (2004), I discovered that perhaps all I really need to know I learned in kindergarten! I learned that for my personal well-being, I need to include play in my life, and I need to “play nice” with others (even when other players do not). I learned that I need to make learning visible through documentation, much like show-and-tell, and find my voice as a play advocate through reflective journaling and professional development. I learned from the children I taught that when I allowed time in the classroom for play and trusted its vital importance, children learned, thrived, and grew by leaps and bounds! And finally, I learned that “no man is an island,” and that all players need a village . . . . Continue reading
About the Author
Lisa D. Wood, MS, is an associate instructor and doctoral candidate in the Curriculum and Instruction, Early Childhood and Art Education program at Indiana University, in Bloomington. Lisa has worked as a K–3 educator in public and private settings, and now teaches preservice educators. Her research focuses on play, creativity, the Reggio Emilia experience, the ethics of care, and qualitative and arts-based research methods. firstname.lastname@example.org