young student writing
The Importance of Play

“All work and no play makes…”  You know the end of the phrase. I am going to offer a variation on this adage:

All work and no play makes education less effective.

At CCS, our mission calls us to lay the foundation for urban students’ educational success, and I am going to make it abundantly clear that play is essential to constructing a strong, sound foundation from which our children grow to become happy, healthy, productive, and kind adults.

I am fortunate to have some early childhood educators in my family, and they remind me that play-based activity is essential to developmentally appropriate practice that leads to “joyful, engaged learning” in our youngest learners (Natl. Assoc. for Education of Young Children). The little girl building a block tower on the floor may very well be taking her first “course” in engineering, whereas the boys dropping different items into the water table are having their first “lessons” in cause and effect.

Learning can and should be based in play.

I argue that play-based learning should not stop at the kindergarten classroom door, and rest assured that, at CCS, it doesn’t! Learning through play has a place at all grade levels.

The CCS Summer Bridges program is a great example of this. For five weeks in June and July, the sounds of children, from 3 years old to 13 years old, could be heard in our hallways, on our playground, and throughout the community. They weren’t simply having fun; they were learning.

Learning should be fun, and those of us in schools need to take seriously our obligation to integrate play into our classrooms. While the school year may be starting, we need not label it “back to work.” We need to understand that the playfulness that has filled our students’ summers can and must continue.

I invite you to schedule time to come to CCS in the months ahead and see how play and learning are seamlessly woven together to lay the foundation that is key to building better futures.


Jeff Martin
Executive Director
Children’s Community School