Date of Award

Spring 5-1-2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)

First Advisor

Nilda Bayron-Resnick

Abstract

Play is a vital part of the early childhood experience to develop in cognitive and social-emotional realms. Schools are taking away an important tool for children to process new information and build skills needed for lifelong problem-solving by allowing less time for play in early childhood classrooms. This research combines data gathered to show the unique benefits of play in both cognitive and social-emotional areas, as well as qualitative data collected in a play-based and a non-play-based classroom.

The research defends the importance of play-based learning in early childhood and equips teachers with rationale to use play as a tool for learning. The research provides information for teachers who must follow early childhood curriculum that does not engage or challenge children as whole people who progress through play and relationships. The larger implications of the findings are to challenge families, administrators, and policy-makers to also value and support the experiences and relationships that teachers can build through playful learning.

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