Home » ExchangeEveryDay » Play vs. Skill Development: Does it Have to Be One or the Other?

ExchangeEveryDay Past Issues

<< Previous Issue | View Past Issues | | Next Issue >> ExchangeEveryDay
Play vs. Skill Development: Does it Have to Be One or the Other?
March 7, 2023
The way we really make our skills permanent and enriched and highly developed, is often through our play experiences.
-Doris Bergen, professor at Miami University’s Department of Educational Psychology

"Teachers feel caught in an either/or choice between play and skill-building, and they can become immobilized," write Lisa Porter Kuh and Iris Chin Ponte in their book, Complementary Curriculum Approach: Transform Your Practice Through Intentional Teaching. Disputing the need to pit play against skill development, Porter Kuh and Chin Ponte offer ways educators can develop a "play AND skills" approach in what they call a "settled classroom."

They explain, "A settled classroom is one where children are free to choose materials and experiences that interest and delight them, have the time and space to concentrate on meaningful, interesting activities, and work and play joyfully as part of a community of learners. The adults in a settled classroom are equally delighted as they thoughtfully guide children in their pursuits, following children’s interests to deepen learning." Porter Kuh and Chin Ponte encourage early educators to ground their practice in "respect for the child’s intellect and a commitment to every child’s right to rich experiences."


Delivered five days a week containing news, success stories, solutions, trend reports, and much more.

What is ExchangeEveryDay?

ExchangeEveryDay is the official electronic newsletter for Exchange Press. It is delivered five days a week containing news stories, success stories, solutions, trend reports, and much more.

Comments (2)

Displaying All 2 Comments
Kirsten Haugen · March 08, 2023
Eugene, OR, United States

Thanks, Francis, for refining our language and therefore our understanding. Well said!

Francis Wardle · March 07, 2023
University of Phoenix/ Red Rocks Community College
Denver, Colorado, United States

The issue really is not about the choice between play and skill- building. After all, those of us who advocate for play believe in its value because it develops so many very important skills (creativity, self-directed learning, self-confidence, use of materials in a variety of ways, etc.). The issue is play versus learning inappropriate, discrete academic skills and concepts. And these are always based on inappropriate curricular outcomes. Play is all about skill development - the right kind!

Post a Comment

Have an account? to submit your comment.


Your e-mail address will not be visible to other website visitors.

Check the box below, to help verify that you are not a bot. Doing so helps prevent automated programs from abusing this form.

Disclaimer: Exchange reserves the right to remove any comments at its discretion or reprint posted comments in other Exchange materials.