To the Editor:
As a family physician, a science teacher, and the author of a science program designed for 1st and 2nd graders, I wanted to respond to the article “Children’s Lack of Playtime Seen as Troubling Health, School Issue” (Dec. 3, 2008).
Even as children lose time for free play, teachers and parents feel there is less time to educate them. Does play, an essential and natural part of learning for children, have to conflict with academic achievement? I think not. The science program I helped develop with SRA/McGraw-Hill, SRA Snapshots Simply Science, combines the two effectively. It merges picture books, science facts, and some simple technology to make learning more accessible to children by tapping in to their vivid imaginations.
Although children do need more unstructured, child-centered playtime, I think we can, at school, cooperate with their natural desire to play. We can do this by providing them with engaging material that they will incorporate into their play, both reinforcing what they learn and encouraging them to seek more knowledge—for more play.
A version of this article appeared in the January 07, 2009 edition of Education Week as Providing More ‘Playtime’ With Engaging Materials