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Gym wall with garage door opening to covered patio and playground. Wood paneled wall around rock wall in back corner

How Play is Making a Comeback in Kindergarten

On a sunny winter morning in Sara Stevens’ kindergarten classroom at Pathfinder Kindergarten Center, 5- and 6-year olds spread out across the classroom learning about colors, shapes, engineering, and design. Not a pencil or worksheet was in sight, however. These kids were playing.

Children playing at wooden table at Pathfinder Kindergarten Center

Pathfinder Kindergarten Center in Everett, WA by DLR Group. Photo by Chris Roberts.

Originally intended to ease overcrowding in local schools, the Pathfinder Kindergarten Center, located about 25 miles north of Seattle in the Mukilteo School District, is a haven for its 545 kindergarteners. The $26-million school opened in 2017 with a central goal: to make kindergarten here more playful and joyful. Classrooms mirror high-quality preschools, with artwork papering the walls, children playing gleefully on colorful carpets, and classroom shelves stocked with bins of toys. Heated floors invite the children to play and rest on the ground and multiple play areas both inside and outside the school offer kids opportunities to learn and burn off energy.

The full story on benefits from structuring learning in such a way that promotes social interaction and learning through expression is in the Hechinger Report.


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