Playtime is More than Meets the Eye at Wyandot

Playtime is More than Meets the Eye at Wyandot ECS
Posted on 01/28/2019
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photo of students in creative playFor the kindergarten team at Wyandot Early Childhood School, right up there with reading, writing and math is open playtime - which is exactly why they’ve created something this year called “Play Workshop.”


Almost every day, for about an hour, their students are able to choose how they want to spend their time. Students are given the creative flexibility to experiment with whatever materials they can get their hands on - playdough, paint, legos, blocks, ipads, books, shaving cream, props for dramatic play and more. Besides taking turns and cleaning up, their only rules are to create and play. The classroom is their playground.


But if you ask any of their teachers, the lessons behind each student’s choice in play are limitless. They cite everything from communication, problem-solving and confidence to motor skills, teamwork and even basic social and language skills.


“Play gives children exactly what they need right now,” says teacher Melissa Lattire. “It helps them guide their own thinking and create without direction. The children are each other’s teachers. They learn from their peers and are more likely to try new ideas because the kids are just like them. They are more likely to take risks and try new things.”


While open play stimulates young learners by giving them the freedom to express themselves while also exploring things they’re curious about, teacher Rachel Contois points out that it also reinforces concepts taught through the regular curriculum.


“Purposeful play is so critical to students at this age because it gives them a chance to play without the distractions of TV or electronic devices - just traditional play,” says Contois. “Their minds can slow down and they can think and be creative. They can try out new skills they have learned in the classroom, make new friends, and gain confidence.”


Teacher Abby Dechter cites the example of a student who chooses to color. When she sits down to color with that student, the conversation that takes place between them is as much a moment of growth as the fine motor skills associated with coloring.


Another teacher on the Wyandot team, Laura Elam, emphasizes the “mini lessons” that they creatively weave into each workshop, citing the impromptu problem-solving moment she created one day when an art station wasn’t cleaned up. “These types of lessons teach social skills like kindness, empathy and persistence.”


“Play is simply how they learn,” Lattie says. “It’s what they know and understand. Purposeful play allows them to be kids and learn as they go.”