Leading the Way Through Learning Play!

Man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child atplay.

Heraclitus, Greek philosopher

Learn to Play … Play to Learn

Children don't think like adults. It took a genius to discover this simple truth. Jean Piaget, a prominent Swiss philosopher and psychologist, was one of the first to take children's thinking seriously and may well be considered the Professor of Play. Through his studies of children in the early 1900s, he came to recognize that children learn step-by-step through experience and interaction with the world around them. In fact, Piaget's research discovered that the young mind is not capable of formal logic and abstract thinking until 11 or 12 years old. Up until then, children learn inductively through experimentation and testing - through hands-on play.

The child playing with blocks is …

  • Learning how to control small muscles and how to coordinate eyes and hands to stack and balance the blocks.
  • Developing mathematical concepts by sorting the blocks by size and shape and figuring out what number of blocks are needed to fill a space.
  • Experimenting with fundamental principles of physics, learning to predict cause-and-effect by discovering how high the blocks can be stacked before they fall.
  • Gaining self-control, independance, and self-confidence.

Piaget Stages of Development

Sensorimotor Stage: Birth to 2 years. The child at this stage uses senses and motor abilities to figure out the world. Squeeze the rubber ducky and it quacks. Drop the ball in the hole and it rolls down the chute all the way to the bottom. Through repetitive play, the young child learns how to keep in mind what's out of sight and how to cause a reaction.

Preoperational Stage: 2 to 6 years. During this stage the child acquires the ability to use symbols but still requires physical props and concrete situations to solve problems. A preschooler will line up 4 blocks and 4 more and then count up to 8. Then do it all over again using cookies or fingers.

Concrete Operations: 6 to 11 years.From physical experience, the school-age child learns to conceptualize. Now 4+4 can be solved with numbers, not just with objects. Still the young student relies on experiment and discovery to hotwire the brain. Srategy games and brainteasers help children to begin thinking logically and lay down the foundation for the aquisition of formal logic later on.

By Nancy Stanek