“Play is often talked about as if it is a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” Fred Rogers
Lately I’ve been receiving more and more questions about how to support some of our younger gifted students. In a recent edition of Parenting for High Potential, published by the NAGC, Dr. Christy McGee writes about developmentally appropriate practices for the preschool child. She cites a number of research studies linking play to math readiness, problem solving and literacy development and writes “if we as educators, parents, grandparents and other interested adults take the time to observe children as they play we would find that a child’s world is intricate and full of opportunities for them to grow and learn.”
She also tells parents of gifted children that while they should support their gifts (cognitively, artictically, athetically, musically etc.) they should remember the importance of balance and free play where they can use their imaginations. She warns against using things like flashcards to develop advanced word recognition skills, but suggests instead to take the time to nourish the love of reading by following your child’s lead. Instead of pushing a reading level, find a book tehy’re interested in and model great reading practice by asking questions, modeling predictions, and helping children make connections between the text, themselves and the world.
Her answer to the big question “What is the best way to accomplish the monumental task of teaching your children about life?” Play with them.