All my child does in school is play!

As a parent of a preschooler or kindergartner, have you ever voiced that thought? Have you ever asked yourself what your child is learning in school? If you have, you are not alone.

Yet research is increasingly showing that play and academic achievement are strongly linked. Children learn best through hands-on, active learning experiences, which is why they are a core part of our curriculum at Morgan Park Academy for students of all ages.

Let’s take a look, then, at some examples of play in an early childhood classroom. Many children gravitate to the building blocks, Play-Doh center, and the kitchen area where they play “restaurant.” What are they learning?

Building Blocks

  • Shape identification
  • Measurement concepts
  • Counting and understanding of quantity
  • Understanding properties of gravity, weight, balance, and momentum
  • Collaboration, cooperation, and verbal communication with peers
  • Creativity
  • Literacy concepts (street signs, building labels)

Play-Doh Center

  • Fine motor skills
  • Measurement concepts
  • Experimenting with fractions
  • Collaboration, cooperation, and verbal communication with peers
  • Creativity
  • Sharing, taking turns, negotiation skills

Kitchen Area (Playing “Restaurant”)

  • Collaboration, cooperation, and verbal communication with peers
  • Role playing
  • Money concepts
  • Science knowledge (nutrition)
  • Creativity
  • Manners and appropriate social behaviors
  • Literacy concepts (menus, food orders, checks)

These types of play promote cognitive, social/emotional, and physical development that not only prepares young children for the elementary grades, but for life itself. And the students are enjoying themselves!

So the next time your child comes home and says that they played all day, embrace these play experiences, foster them at home, and celebrate how your child is learning and growing at school.


By Kari Misulonas ’82

Mrs. Misulonas teaches kindergarten and is our curriculum leader for Early Childhood (preschool through first grade). She also is Director of Student Support Services.