This story begins as I am tidying up and getting ready for bed last night. The TV was on in the background playing a popular murder mystery type series that is in now in reruns. At the end of this particular episode (which first showed in April 2015) the husband and wife are in the kitchen talking about various details of the latest case and the husband makes the comment that he can’t quite believe their preschool child has homework. It is at this point I stop what I am doing and really listen. Their PRESCHOOL CHILD has homework! The mom then says that its just tracing letters and it helps her fine motor skills.
All that is going through my mind is the various conversations I’ve had, the articles, books, and textbooks I have read and the well-educated presenters I have heard talk about preschool children’s need for play (not homework and worksheets)!!
Play, not worksheets and homework are what children need to grow, learn, and develop in a healthy way! we want to offer developmentally appropriate curriculums for children. How can we as trained educators help our parents and politicians making policies understand this when they see what was a popular, well-liked television show supporting the insanity of homework for preschoolers?
I want children to love learning! Think back to school for you. When did you learn best? I bet it was when you were interested and engaged, not when you were forced to because you had to. You will not find colouring sheets, letter sheets, or crafts here. This does not mean the children are not learning colours, shapes, numbers, letters… it means we do it all through play. We talk about colours of paint or fabric, we build with blocks of different shapes, we read books and tell stories, we sing songs with numbers, we cook using measurements, and use tape measures to look at length and height. We predict, hypothesize, experiment, and explore questions, concepts, and ideas. This only scratches the surface of what we do and explore. We are also building social and emotional skills that children need to be able to navigate the school years as well as adulthood!
All these concepts are explored through playing and having fun! There is this notion that if we are having fun, we can’t be learning! How wrong is that!
It’s time to throw out the worksheets and have fun!
Play is the most useful tool for preparing children for the future and its tasks. – Bruno Bettelheim, “The Importance of Play”