Why Play Matters

Little Sunshine House is a Play Based Preschool. We draw from current research that supports the idea that children best learn, grow and develop socially and emotionally through play.

NPR Article: Children's Play Co-opted 

Posted on 
July 10, 2008 byMathew|

NPR reports on the commercialization of children’s play which has shifted in the second half of the twentieth century from an emphasis on activities towards and emphasis on specific toys and rules. 

“(in the first half of the century) [Children] improvised their own play; they regulated their play; they made up their own rules…but in the second half of the 20th century…play changed radically.  instead of spending their time in autonomous shifting make-believe, children were supplied with ever more specific toys for play and predetermined scripts…a trend which begins to shrink the size of children’s imaginative space.”

The damage is that researches have seen a decrease in children’s self regulation, an ability to 

“control their emotions, and behavior, resist impulses, and exert self-control and discipline.” “Today’s 5-year-olds [are] acting at the level of 3-year-olds 60 years ago, and today’s 7-year-olds were barely approaching the level of a 5-year-old 60 years ago.” 

I’ve written previously about 
allowing children to play whenever possible, even integrating that into your Independent Work Time and existing curriculum.  For teachers of the Open Court Reading Program, I beg you to please implement independent work time and to allow that to be a time when students make some of their own choices and begin to self-regulate their own behavior.  It’s a little more chaotic at first but by investing time in training you reap dividends later.  By moving students from center to center based on a rotation, you further take away from students opportunities to make decisions about their own learning. We all want students to be responsible but do we give them chances to learn responsibility?  Do we give them changes to exhibit creativity and problem-solving in our classrooms.

Parent Involvement 

Little Sunshine House wants parents to be involved and knowledgeable concerning their child’s experience at the center. The following are some of the many ways parents may be involved in their child’s preschool experience. 

Parents have easy access to learn about the activities that have occurred during the day as they are posted on Brightwheel and documented throughout the classrooms. In addition, samples of provocational activities are posted with descriptions on a weekly basis. 

There are evening pot-lucks or picnics at the park throughout the summer that allow all parents, their children and the teachers a relaxed opportunity to get together and share. 

Two Saturday’s a year are dedicated to maintaining the preschool. Parents are required to fulfill 8 volunteer hours a year. Hours are completed on an individual bases through committee sign ups.

Parent-Teacher Conferences

Parent-Teacher Conferences are offered throughout the year. If you wish to have a conference with your child’s Teacher, simply contact your primary teacher and one will be arranged for you. The conference is usually 15-20 minutes long and provides time for you and your child’s Primary Teacher to discuss your child. 

Parent Involvement 
Exchange 2008 

Parent involvement in a preschool setting improves academic scores and the social emotional development of children. If this involvement is continued, it will contribute to improved academics in grade school and improved graduation rates from high school. Thus observes Joseph Henry, executive director of the Shoshone and Arapahoe Head Start Program on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming. In his paper, "Academic Success and Preschool Parent Involvement," he describes the results of research conducted at his Head Start site...

"A parent involvement plan was implemented in the Head Start Program....The plan allowed parents to become involved in the education of their children.This involvement included the development of a personal relationship with the child, the completion of homework, high expectations, communication with HeadStart teachers, and the development of a partnership that included a welcoming environment for parents in the program. The hypothesis was that parent communication with the children and teachers, high expectations, a literacy-friendly environment in the home, and a welcoming school environment resulted in increased academic and social-emotional performances for children.

"The results of the research confirmed that when parents are involved in the education of the child, that child is more focused, comfortable, and trusting and excels in both academics and social behavior. The children of all parents who were exposed to parent involvement demonstrated significant improvements in all categories: How much involvement and what type of involvement are the questions. It appears from the research that the extent and type of involvement depends on the location and the audience. There is consensus on the need for parents, schools, and communities to partner in the format acceptable to that community, for the good of the child. The context is the key and what occurs on a Native American Indian reservation may not be appropriate for New York City. [But] the principles are similar in all locations: the respect, the welcoming environment, and the acceptance of all social and economic groups..." Exchange 2007 "Learning improves dramatically among young children who take the time to explain academic concepts to their mothers or who explain the logic aloud to themselves," reports Education Week (January 30, 2008;www.edweek.org).More specifically, a study conducted by a team of researchers at Vanderbilt University, found that...

"Four- and 5-year olds who explained concepts to their mothers before taking a test scored correctly on 76% of the questions on a test of reasoning,and children who explained concepts aloud to themselves prior to the test scored 72% correct. On the other hand, children who did not explain the concepts at all prior to taking the test scored only 42% correct. The study examined 54 youngsters' ability to correctly place toy insects in a certain pattern based on color and type."