Play Time Should Not Be Over: The Importance of Play in Elementary Classrooms
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A typical elementary school classroom after kindergarten consists of desks and charts. The toys and activity centers are replaced with worksheets and desk work. However, classrooms filled with more play and fewer worksheets would be more beneficial. This change is possible if more classrooms incorporated guided play. Guided play occurs when children are given the time and space to play, explore, and discover at their own discretion while adults guide them in making connections to larger concepts. Guided play is important not only in the cognitive development of children, but also in their social development. Some skills can only be learned through interaction with other children in their own time and way; however, play of almost any kind in elementary classes often halts after kindergarten. Unfortunately, many teachers face instructional time and curriculum standard constraints which prevent incorporating guided play into their classrooms on a daily basis. I research the reasons why guided play is removed from classrooms beyond kindergarten, investigated past and current models of play, and considered how guided play has affected child social and cognitive development. I then propose specific ways guided play could effectively be incorporated into classrooms.