Play-based curriculum an important part of early childhood education

Orcas Island is blessed with a community of child daycare and preschools committed to the education of our children. And although each approaches this responsibility in its own way, all recognize the importance of what they do on the lives of the children.

The Perry Preschool Project, begun in 1962, studied the effects of preschool education of three- and four-year olds and now has follow-up data as these children grew and matured through age 27. Those that were enrolled in the program had higher monthly earnings at age 27, higher percentage of home ownership, and a higher level of completed schooling. They also had a lower percentage receiving social services and fewer arrests for drug-making or -dealing. Indeed, for every dollar invested in a preschool program there was a $7.16 return over the lifetime of the participants in the study.

Current research has demonstrated that children spend less time playing outdoors (Clements, 2004); between six months and six years, they spend an average of 1.5 hours a day with electronic media; between 8 years and 18 years they spend an average of 6.5 hours a day with electronic media (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2005-6). Karsten (2005) describes today’s children as having a more restricted range in which they can play freely, they have fewer playmates, and are more home-centered than any previous generation.

Additional research in early childhood development and education has demonstrated the importance of imaginary play and the role it plays in a child’s life. As adults, we often view a child’s play as time spent doing nothing at all, when in fact it helps build critical cognitive skill, memory and cognitive flexibility, all of which contribute to the child’s ability to develop self-regulation – the ability for kids to control their emotions and behavior, resist impulses and exert self-control, and discipline. Children that don’t develop these skills have higher school failure rates, drug use and crime.

Children’s House uses this play based curriculum such as described above to teach our children, incorporating the latest information so that we can contribute to the child’s future growth in a positive way. Children’s House accepts all families; private pay, DSHS Working Connections, ECEAP. We are licensed to provide care to infants and toddlers and since we are a non-profit organization, we encourage donations to help support our mission.

Dale Heisinger is an Olga resident and a retired pediatrician. He is also President of the Board of Directors for Childrens’ House.