• Supporting Self-Directed Play in Early Childhood Classrooms

      Bradley, Elizabeth; Dunlap, Kyle (2021-12)
      Public education has become increasingly standardized and academically focused in the past decade. As a result, traditional kindergartens which provided young children their first experiences out of the home have all but disappeared. Preschool programs have now replaced the kindergarten experience, but with an increased focus on academics. Children have less time to play, and early childhood educators are often not educated about the developmental significance of play or how to support play. The following is a critique of the highly standardize and scripted trend in education as developmentally inappropriate and detrimental to children’s development in the five essential domains of early childhood. Further, it proposes how early childhood classrooms should support self-directed play, why it is the correct cognitive approach to learning for young children, and how to assess if the classroom is organized in such a way that supports children in the essential domains: physical, social, emotional, language, and cognitive development through varied approaches to learning via self-directed play.