Play Time is Essential

Today’s early childhood education research continues to bring evidence to light that play time is essential for social-emotional and academic development in young children. In The Importance of Being Little, child development expert Erika Christakis emphasizes that freedom to participate in unstructured play is crucial for children to inspire key learning connections. She says, “We have very crammed [preschool] schedules with rapid transitions. We have tons of clutter on classroom walls. We have kids moving quickly from one activity to another. We ask them to sit in long and often boring meetings. Logistically and practically, lives are quite taxing for little kids because they’re actually living in an adult-sized world.” Read more from her book in this NPR ARTICLE. We have to consider the fact that children need time and space to explore their world without overbearing structure and a busy schedule.

If play-time leads to engagement, should we create learning environments only around what is deemed enjoyable and fun, or focus more on academic advancement? Scientific research is affirming that the key is to balance both spontaneity and academic discipline. Stepping Stone School embraces this educational concept, which has a profound effect on what and how we teach and inspire learning in a way that is creative, lively, and encourages individuality. For instance, S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) curriculum engages children in creative, fun and active learning! We strategically set the stage for creative play and provide developmentally appropriate early care and education designed to help young children grow into school-readiness, not solely academically, but also socially, emotionally and physically.

Neurologist and educator Judy Willis’ book Research-Based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning: Insights from a Neurologist and Classroom Teacher, is one of many that have highlighted the learning benefits of fun. Willis states, “The highest-level executive thinking, making of connections, and ‘aha’ moments are more likely to occur in an atmosphere of ‘exuberant discovery,’ where students of all ages retain that kindergarten enthusiasm of embracing each day with the joy of learning. The truth is that when the joy and comfort are scrubbed from the classroom and replaced with homogeneity, and when spontaneity is replaced with conformity, students’ brains are distanced from effective information processing and long-term memory storage.”

All the elements of Stepping Stone School curriculum – from our selective screening process for hiring faculty to our Platinum Learning for Life™ curriculum – are purposefully designed based upon decades of experience and proven research, with the overarching goal of elevating our students to reach their full potential.


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