Centenary Thru-the-Week:
Where Play is A Child’s Work!

kids at board

Our “Learn Through Play” Philosophy

Over the past 40 years, Centenary Thru-the-Week School has succeeded on the premise that play is the profession of children.  We believe that a “learn through play” philosophy enriches the natural learning process of young children.  So with a keen focus on play as a child’s first -- and best -- learning environment, our school provides the foundation upon which emotional, intellectual, social & physical development can thrive to a child’s full potential.

Doesn’t My Child Need Lots of Academics?

Academic preschools that emphasize learning over play have become popular because parents want to make sure their children get a leg up in life.  Life is tough, & Kindergarten has changed; no question about it.  The pervasive myth in our achievement-oriented society that child’s play is a waste of time is linked to the hype that parents must boost their children’s intelligence.   But it’s just not true that the best kind of learning takes place in academically oriented preschools, or that such children enter school with better skills & better attitudes toward learning.

Research shows that an emphasis on play does not detract from academic learning but actually enables & accelerates children’s learning. In classrooms where children spent 50 to 60 minutes of a two-and-a-half-hour program in play supported by teachers, children scored higher in literacy skills than in controlled classrooms(1).

Play:  The Profession of Children

Intelligence gets the biggest boost from play.  Renowned Professor Lev S. Vygotsky, a Russian psychologist & child development play theorist comments, “Children are at the highest level of their development when they are at play.”   During playtime, children learn basic developmental building blocks necessary for later academic success, and in fact they develop these building blocks better while playing than while in a traditional class(2).  When children play, they show an increase in creativity & problem solving.  Play helps make meaning in a child ’s world, it helps them learn about themselves, and equally crucial, it helps them to learn how to get along with others.  In fact, play is the key to nurturing happy, highly-intelligent children.

Learn Through Play: How It Works

Play Enhances Early Reading & Literacy Skills

Dramatic play feeds into literacy because it becomes practice for storytelling.  In imaginative play, a child opens the pages to new worlds & adventures that go well beyond what they could experience themselves.   Children also become open to learning through others.  This ability to imagine and to create new environments is preparation for language, reading & problem solving.

Play Enhances Math Skills

An example:  A child builds with blocks & makes roads for Matchbox cars, learning that eight little blocks are as long as one big block.  This is math, and its fun!

Play is the Foundation of Science

It was Albert Einstein himself who pondered, “…play seems to be the essential feature in productive scientific thought – before there is any connection with logical construction in words or other kinds of signs that can be communicated to others.”

Play Results in More Individual Learning

Because children can play intensely during their center time, teachers have more time for meaningful one-on-one interactions with children. Group times are short & sweet because the children are typically able to participate & pay attention. The result is more productive time to learn, more time to be creative, and more time to have fun!

So while our preschool rooms may look a little like indoor playgrounds, mostly they’re designed to encourage &promote learning in a playful way.  We acknowledge that children need us to help them get going in their play — by providing stimulating environments and by entering in and injecting important knowledge from the wider world.    Join our fun and discover how play is the answer to how we build happy, healthy, & intelligent children!

1  Bodrova & Leong (2001) “The Importance of Being Playful”
2  Hirsh-Pasek & Golinkoff (2003) Einstein Never Used Flash Cards

“Play is vital to the development of children’s mathematical thinking.  Unlike some forms of knowledge, mathematical knowledge, which deals with relationships between and among things, cannot be learned by hearing adults talk about it.  Experimental research on play shows a strong relationship between play, the growth of mathematical understanding, and improved mathematical performance… Without play… children’s powers of mathematical reasoning would be seriously underdeveloped.”

— Professor Ranald Jarrell, University of Arizona