The Wisdom of Play Based Learning

Betty Merner has been a faculty member of Meadowbrook Waldorf School for more than 22 years. She taught in public schools for 18 years before discovering Waldorf education. Following 15 years as a class teacher Betty became the school’s Resource Co-ordinator overseeing special services for students in need of extra support. Here she considers the results of a study into play based learning in light of her extensive experience of the Waldorf approach.

The HighScope Educational Research Foundation of Ypsilanti, MI recently published the results of its longitudinal study, the HighScope Preschool Comparison Study. HighScope followed the lives of 68 young people born into poverty from ages 3 and 4. These children were randomly assigned to one of three early childhood programs: the Direct Instruction model, where teachers followed a script to direct the learning of academic skills; a Play-Based model, where teachers responded to children’s self-initiated play in a loosely structured setting; and the Highscope model where teachers set-up the classroom and a daily routine within which children could create and do their own activities. The study followed these children until age 23 and looked at their success in a number of categories that affected their lives on a number of levels. Continue reading →