As an advocate for children’s play, do you face required standards? If so, here’s a timely survival guide. This wonderfully challenging, readable book invites us to sharpen our perceptions of a whole range of state and national standards and to share responsibility for explaining them to teachers and parents and the public. It assures us that play and standards can go together and guides us in being active learners collaborating with the children. While keeping play authentic, child-directed and open-ended, we can recognize the standards embedded in play and use them – as guidelines for observing children’s growth, not as lesson plans. As a standards-resister myself, I’ve just been won over. Read this book.
This wonderfully challenging, readable book invites us to sharpen our perceptions of a whole range of state and national standards.
Gaye Gronlund and Thomas Rendon, authors of this lively book, bring their extensive experience with the standards to explain their potential as tools for observing children at play. Faced with required standards? Don’t take them literally, as lessons. Use them creatively, as guidelines for observing children’s growth during play. Play isn’t time-out from learning; it’s multi-tasking. In high-level, complex play children are learning how to learn. They are practicing curiosity, interest, persistence, pleasure, friendship, creating challenging games—all essential factors in an intelligent life. “It’s impossible to address only one standard at a time in play,” the authors assure us. So see how many you can identify by play-watching—and use them in communicating to your staff and parents and the public that their children really are learning what they need to know.
Play isn’t time-out from learning; it’s multi-tasking. In high-level, complex play children are learning how to learn.
Authentic learning, for children and for adults, goes way beyond social (memorized) knowledge. It needs to be acted out physically and verbally and co-constructed in social interaction. Children learn through play and other forms of active storytelling, in interaction with other kids and attentive grownups. Teachers get to storytell too – to observe and tell children’s stories (to them, to their parents and teachers), to stage-manage a playable environment of many things to do and choices to make.
As an advocate for play you can use standards as strategies for justifying your program. Link play and standards by keeping play authentic, child-directed and open-ended. As you observe children at play, look for what was expected and what you didn’t expect to see. This very readable book, addressed directly to teachers and clearly organized toward teachers’ questions, offers a survival guide. Saving Play is a handbook, offering both theory and stories, drawing on its authors’ extensive experience with the standards to explain their potential as an analytic framework for observing children at play.
A handbook, offering both theory and stories, drawing on its authors’ extensive experience.
Use it to organize your goals and your awareness of active learning. Observing play makes the standards come alive. Study them. Pay attention to children learning—and explore the logic of the standards for your own learning.
Elizabeth Jones, Faculty emerita, Pacific Oaks College, author of The Play’s the Thing and Playing to Get Smart.
Gaye Gronlund, MA, is an early childhood consultant and trains educators, administrators, and policy makers across the country. She is a former preschool, kindergarten, and primary teacher of both regular and special education. Gaye holds a master’s degree in adult learning and early childhood education. Learn more at: www.gayegronlund.com.
Thomas Rendon is the coordinator of the Iowa Head Start State Collaboration Office and an active supporter of policy to promote play at a state level. He has an MBA from the University of Iowa and is currently working on a PhD in early childhood special education from Kent State University.
Saving Play: Addressing Standards through Play-Based Learning in Preschool and Kindergarten
Available now from Redleaf Press; $34.95; ISBN: 9781605545301
Age focus: 3-6; Softbound, 288 pgs