Tradition &

Play-Based Preschool Programs Preferable for Long-Term Success

“[We tell] stories that live very deeply in the child, and the child can then take those stories into their play. It’s not about what I say; it’s about what they do. Children are beings of movement. Their first language is movement, and as they move, they learn…” – Lisa Miccio, Early Childhood Teacher at The Waldorf School of Garden City.

Play, wonder, and exploration have always been at the core of Waldorf Early Childhood education. While the importance of play is by no means a new concept, top researcher Dr. Dale Clark Farran recently shared the outcome of a study in which she followed two groups of students in Tennessee. One group, admitted by lottery, participated in state-funded pre-k.  The other group of students were rejected, creating the closest thing you can get in the real world to a randomized, controlled trial. Through her studies, Dr. Farran found that the children who followed the more conventional learning path seated most of the day and learned by repetition and drilling numbers and letters, scored higher in school readiness in their first year of school. However, they suffered academically by third grade and later in life and had more behavioral problems compared to the control group.  “[Farran points out that] families of means tend to choose play-based preschool programs with art, movement, music and nature. Children are asked open-ended questions, and they are listened to.”

A paper published in 2018 in the journal Pediatrics, and shared on NPR.org summarizes the evidence for letting kids let loose. “Play is not frivolous,” the paper insists twice. “It is brain building.” The authors ask pediatricians to take an active role by writing a “prescription for play” for their young patients in the first two years of life.”

To read previous articles about our kindergarten, visit our Early Childhood website.

Enjoy the video below to learn more about how The Waldorf School of Garden City Early Childhood Educators embrace the wonder of childhood and the magic of play. 

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