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Why We Play and Learn

This message is from a popular early childhood development expert, Amanda Morgan (

There’s a long, worn-out battle about early childhood curriculum. Should it be play-based or academic-based? Should the early years be for playful discovery or intentional foundation building? The argument goes round and round with each camp accusing the other of missing the mark.

In all this time spent vilifying the other side, it may have been overlooked that the two groups are actually arguing over a false dichotomy. Play or learning. One or the other. Take it or leave it. In our opinion, that perspective is where the real problem lies.

You see, academics is simply the subject matter. Play is a method for teaching, and learning is the outcome. Academics, play, and learning are not mutually exclusive.

Setting play and academics at odds with each other is pitting the method against the goal. It’s not an either/or choice, it’s a means and an end.

We know from research that young children learn best when they are allowed to be hands-on, explore, play, and construct knowledge. We also know that, developmentally, they need social play to build vital social-emotional skills. This is why, in our program, we work to preserve play in order for kids to learn.

We also believe that in order to teach effectively through play, we, as teachers, must be aware, prepared, and intentional. We have to know the subject matter in order to effectively use the method. Play is a powerful teaching tool, but that doesn’t make it a simple teaching tool.

When we prepare the environment, foster inquiry, respond to interests, and support curiosity, we play-based teachers guide some powerful “academic” learning.

Academics is the subject. Play is the method. Learning is the outcome.

Don’t ever let someone tell you that children can only have one or the other. In this classroom, we work to give your child all three.

It’s why we play.

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