2008 Parent Seminars Work and Play: One and the Same?
By Betsy Koning, Teacher
“Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning,” Fred Rogers of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood once said. “They have to play with what they know to be true in order to find out more, and then they can use what they learn in new forms of play,” he added. The Bing staff set about to illustrate this point to parents at a seminar event, “The Importance of Play,” held May 5 and repeated May 7.
After coffee and dessert, the presentation began with head teachers Adrienne Lomangino, Kitti Pecka and Peckie Peters providing parents with a definition of play, explaining why play is valuable to children and describing the types of play often seen at Bing. They outlined how children’s play affects their social, emotional, physical, cognitive and language development.
After this overview, teachers led the attendees to the adjacent classroom, which was set up just as it is when the children arrive for class. The activities provided involved basic materials such as blocks, clay, paints, and water, as well as found materials, musical instruments and props for dramatic play. Then the teachers encouraged parents to interact with the materials and one another. Several members of the Bing staff, including Jen Aguilar, Jenna Ascari, Amy Blasberg, Lars Gustafson, Nancy Howe, Colin Johnson, Betsy Koning, Kim Taylor, Nancy Verdtzabella and Seyon Verdtzabella were stationed at these activities to encourage participants and answer questions. During this playtime, we heard frequent exclamations of surprise and delight as parents explored and experimented in ways their children do each time they come to school.
Many of the adults stated that they had not realized the challenges involved in working with certain materials or in simply choosing an activity and getting started. Also, many mentioned that they had not expected to enjoy the playtime so thoroughly.
The entire group reconvened at the end of the evening to share what they had learned and how they felt about their experiences. The resounding refrains from the participants included, “We want more time to play” and “I want to do this with my children.” One parent summed up her experience by saying that she now understood why her son comes home from school feeling fulfilled and tired, yet energized at the same time. She sees how this type of play “gets his juices flowing” and “makes him want to do more and more.” Other parents concurred when she added that it was a valuable lesson for her to experience this type of play herself. Fortunately, at Bing Nursery School, opportunities for these play experiences abound.