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History Comes To Life Through Play

On Tuesday night, I went to the Norwalk High School Open House and met my daughter's teachers. She had told me that her World History teacher was funny and made class very interesting.  I was glad since History was never my favorite subject and Geography just never clicked for me.  All I remember are dull lectures, taking notes and memorizing fact after fact.

When her teacher started his talk with parents, he began with the line, "I think it is important that kids learn through play....."  Now this is in high school!

As a preschool teacher and play advocate, I live by the words, "children learn best through play."  It is our role as adults, parents and teachers to give children safe, yet challenging environments which encourage discovery in a fun way.  This should not end when kids are five years old. And I am delighted that my daughter's high school teacher agrees.

The teacher went on the explain that History can be very dry and he doesn't like to go from war to war and make it all about dates, so he has them analyze the music of the times, and the food and explore the clothing.  They learn by singing, debating and creating projects.  The students are not sitting in their seats inactively listening all class period.  He wants them to be laughing and enjoying themselves as he makes the various time periods come alive to them in a meaningful way. These students will be making connections, rather than memorizing past events.

By learning through play in high school, I think these honors World History students will learn more in one year than I did in four years of simply sitting in my seat listening to boring lectures.  Kudos to you, Mr. V, and all other teachers of older students who are letting children learn through play!

Dana Gorman is a preschool teacher at the Community Cooperative Nursery School in Rowayton. She is the winner of Stepping Stone's  2010 Playful Practices in Teaching Award.  Visit her blog: playfullylearning.blogspot.com

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