Children play like it’s their job because it is. Once in school, there are so many foundational skills they must acquire just to be ready to engage with each facet of the learning process. If we want this process to be meaningful in a classroom setting, we must make play and creative inquiry a priority of any curriculum.
Acquisition rates of learner readiness skills vary from student to student for a multitude of reasons, which makes being a classroom teacher both an intense challenge and a great adventure.
Creative practice can be a powerful conduit for making meaningful connections both inside and outside of the classroom. When learning opportunities are designed with this in mind, creativity (in all of it’s forms) becomes our greatest tool for:
facilitating diverse groups of students with unique learning profiles.
helping students reach specific benchmarks.
building a welcoming relationship with the learning process itself.
When we design our learning environments and curriculums to consider the FUNdamental and empirically validated truth: that play makes learning both more likely and more meaningful, we are setting our students up for greater success. We also find more joy as teachers, which builds our stamina and resilience through the inevitable challenges of being an educator.
Integrated play deepens the learning process, which serves students far beyond any single learning objective and increases the likelihood that a positive relationship to learning itself is realized. Structured play can blended into most curriculums, allowing us to scaffold learning and bridge it to a variety of skill domains.
The Elements of heART program was designed with this in mind: Fun is the embodied language of learning and creative play is a dialect that opens the door to powerful possibilities in human development.
When play is explicit, we can shape the hidden curriculum toward cognitive and social-emotional models that target dry or challenging content in ways that feel relevant and enjoyable. In this way, we can empower young people to find a love for learning and flourish in the process.