Cultivating Meaningful Play

Julie Bourque - Preschool Director
We engage students in preschool all day, every day in so many ways, but what can we do to increase this engagement? Dr. Keith Rice, our Associate Head of School for Academics, set a school-wide goal of increasing student engagement for the 2021-2022 school year.  As a result, our preschool division's goal is to cultivate meaningful play and deepen the richness of student engagement.

On our preschool campus, our work began even before the school year started. We discussed the definition of play, which is ultimately the balance between chaos and directed recreation. There is no doubt that children learn best through play. Play builds brain architecture by increasing neural connections, forming new neural pathways, and making the brain richer and faster. The fastest brain growth happens in the first 2000 days of life, ages 0-6yrs. This sets the foundation for future learning.  
Using The Brain Architecture Game, we built brains and discovered the many areas that impact brain development like genetics, social support, and life experiences. We were given different structural pieces depending on if the brain’s experiences were positive (responsive caregivers, having a language-rich environment, a diet rich in healthy, non-processed foods), tolerable (childhood illness, caregiver depression, poorly trained childcare providers, parent’s loss of job, divorce, frequent caregiver changes) or toxic (malnutrition, neglect, caregiver substance abuse, physical or emotional abuse, witnessing violence). As you can see below, some of our brains fared better than others!  


In collaboration with faculty and staff, we created a vision for how meaningful play might look on our campus.  With the help of our EdTech department, a Meaningful Play Guide was developed. The Meaningful Play Guide reminds us what play is, where it can take place, how much time can be utilized, how skill practice can be embedded and learning assessed, what role teachers and assistants have in the experience (onlooker, stage-manager, co-player, play leader), and an opportunity to reflect on the learning experience. This guide serves as a framework for teachers as they plan centers, create dramatic play areas, design projects, etc.

We LOVE to play in preschool and will continue learning ways to create a purposeful, rich play experience for our students.  We have our students for approximately 550 of their first 2000 days and want to make the most of this time building the strongest brain structure we can.

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P. 337-233-9748
F. 337-269-9768


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When it comes to our children, one of the most important gifts we can provide for them is opportunity. It not only prepares them for their future but also gives them the independence to discover and define who they are: who they want to be. Our faculty and staff focus on developing the whole child, with a curriculum designed to teach lifelong learning skills.