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(Review) A Child's Work: the Importance of Fantasy Play

I recently read my first Vivian Gussin Paley book, and I can't believe I have never read any of her work before! She would have been a wonderful inspiration while in college, and now as a parent I definitely can't wait to read more. Here's a review I wrote for Amazon and GoodReads.

"After reading this book, I realized just how much pressure must be on Kindergarten teachers today. There are expectations put upon them to prepare children academically for first grade when so many of them were not prepared for today's Kindergarten in the first place. From then on, it's a snowball effect in which each subsequent teacher is trying to catch every child up on academic standards. What ever happened to preparing them for life?"

"Einstein said, "Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school.", and this book follows that train of thought. As more time passes, play is devalued more and more... then people wonder why children have to critical thinking and problem solving skills. It's evident that so much can be learned through fantasy play and storytelling... much more than simply learning what you need to pass a test."

"Reading this book renewed my hope for what Early Childhood Professionals can do in classrooms to get back their roots in play. I highly recommend reading this if you work with young children or have children of your own!"

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Re: (Review) A Child's Work: the Importance of Fantasy Play

Wendy, I'd forgotten all about this book; thanks for the reminder! And I hadn't heard that quote from Einstein before. Priceless!

Re: (Review) A Child's Work: the Importance of Fantasy Play

Thanks for recommending this book. I plan to locate it for my library.

It wasn't until I became a grandparent,that I realized just how much children learn while they play, how smart it makes them, and how it stimulates their brains to make all sorts of connections. Play is powerful. Parents might overlook this because we're eager for them to fit into a dance class, be on a team, or play an instrument. All these things are fine, but give a child time to play and you give them the world.

Re: (Review) A Child's Work: the Importance of Fantasy Play

Well said, Connie! I may have to quote you one day: "Give children time to play and you give them the world." Beautiful!

Thanks for taking part in the dialog!

Re: (Review) A Child's Work: the Importance of Fantasy Play

WendyZ; Thank=you for the information about fantasy play. A couple of weeks ago, I met Rae at a conference & what she had said about children in playbased programs exceeding children in preschool programs (Rae,I hope I said this right)really got me thinking about changing my program to playbased. It really struck a chord with me. I've been doing childcare almost 15 years & teaching children through my own preschool style curriculums. So I've started to read up about playbased info & I haven't gotten too far with it, but I'm leaning in the playbased direction for the Fall. Does anyone have any input on this and as a parent, would you rather send your child to a playbased program or a preschool program? I feel caught in the middle, because there's such a push for kids to go to preschool, but I believe children are being pushed too much when they are young. Thanks for any help you can send my way.

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Re: (Review) A Child's Work: the Importance of Fantasy Play

Wow, Val. You have no idea what it means to me that something I said has caused you to dig further into the topic. When I write books or give talks, the only way for me to know their impact is if someone specifically addresses it with me; so I really appreciate your candor.

I'd like to suggest you listen to my interviews with Joan Almon, Jody Martin, David Elkind, and Jane Healy on BAM Radio. Each of these experts has something unique to offer that I believe will contribute to your quest. I also highly recommend David Elkind's book, The Hurried Child, and a book called All Work and No Play: How Educational Reforms Are Harming Our Preschoolers, edited by Sharna Olfman.

The research does show that children in play-based programs are more successful in school than those who are exposed to early academics. Now if we could just get parents to believe it!

Re: (Review) A Child's Work: the Importance of Fantasy Play

Hi Rae, Yes! You did indeed put some serious thoughts into my head! I feel like I'm supposed to go in a new direction & that following the wisdom that you passed along about playbased programs is the right direction. I'll check out some of the books that you mentioned. Is there a particular book that would be the most useful for me to get started with? See, I think you were meant to be at the conference in Colchester, VT. It was very inspiring to me & it was a last minute decision for me to be there! Thanks Rae!!

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Re: (Review) A Child's Work: the Importance of Fantasy Play

I recommend the Creative Curriculum which has books and materials for different age groups available. It was one of my text books in college, and it shows how children learn by doing... hands-on etc. A lot of lab centers and head start programs also use it.

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Re: (Review) A Child's Work: the Importance of Fantasy Play

Thanks Wendy, I have actually borrowed the book & started to read it. It's also a great refresher in general. I did contact a gal through our local headstart & she's going to mail me some info. & that should also help! To me, it's a big jump to change the way I do things. Change can be a good thing though.

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Re: (Review) A Child's Work: the Importance of Fantasy Play

I am a mother of 2 young children who is also a full-time college student to earn my teaching certificate. I am actually majoring in early childhood education. I have never heard of this book and will certainly be looking it up and adding it to my summer reading list - thanks for sharing.

In regards to the post about whether or not a parent would want to send their child to a center that is more play-based or academically-based, as a mother and an educator in training, I would whole-heartedly say PLAY is more vital and important. I actually just went through the process of looking for a program for my 2 girls, and the element of play is VERY important to me. I see a tremendous amount of value in what children learn through play.

If you know much about Piaget, you know that he really supported play, saying that it aids in the holistic development of the child, especially (but not limited to) language, social, and problem-solving skills.

I don't have much time, but I want to encourage you in your changes you are making towards a more play-based center. From my experience working in a head-start classroom for one of my placements, I believe that the Creative Curriculum is a good place to start. You may receive some flak from some parents, but I hope that you do not get discouraged and give up. Children need us to be advocates for them and give them the very best that we can. We all feel that children are being pushed to grow-up too fast, that Kindergarten is too academic these days... they need more time to play and just be children.

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