Playful Learning

At Friends’ Central, we believe in the power of play.

As the pace of the world accelerates, pressure on students and parents has intensified. The way we learn and work is changing, and there is an emerging sense that the only way to prepare our children for their future is for them to work harder and longer. This has resulted in an unhealthy and mistaken belief that joyful discovery cannot or should not be part of the learning process - that good and productive work only takes place in rows with a teacher in the lead.

Pressure to achieve has encouraged many educators and parents to intensify their focus on structured academic rigor and the preparation it implies. From our perspective as a leading educator, and supported by abundant scientific evidence, Friends’ Central School believes that the trend is ill-fated and fundamentally wrong.

When students are allowed to be discoverers and explorers, and when teachers act as facilitators, flexible, entrepreneurial, and creative thinking happens. When children are encouraged to explore without intrinsic goals, they become problem solvers, they gain confidence, they collaborate. When children learn early on that there can be many right answers, they become open minded and intellectually adventurous. Together they engage because they love to learn.

Brain research and educational data clearly point to the fact that children do best and learn best when their education is a blend of the structured and unstructured, of focused work and play. We know that play is essential to creativity, self-expression, and social development and that, ironically, play results in better academic, as well as social, outcomes than more structured or formal classroom preparation.

It would be fair to ask why, if play is so powerful, everyone doesn’t educate this way. The simple answer is that it is harder. In fact, teaching through play requires educators to engage fully with their students and their material constantly. Just as students learn resilience, flexibility, creativity, and social skills through play, teachers have to both have and model these skills every minute of every day. Our teachers embrace this challenge and attend to each of our students as individual learners embarking on individual journeys - together.