Play is a healthy part of childhood and important to learning.
When it comes to early education, play and learning are not separate activities for young children. They are closely connected and go hand in hand.
Studer Community Institute supports the play and learning concept through the design and installation of Make Play Smart Early Learning decals that support early learning and kindergarten readiness skills in public spaces and play areas.
On Saturday (Aug. 31), the child’s world of play and learning became a reality at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the reopening of Morris Court Park on Lloyd Street in Pensacola.
Residents and community leaders joined the City of Pensacola Parks and Recreation to showcase the new playground equipment and the SCI early learning decals installed to incorporate learning and play.
These colorful, fun decals reinforce concepts that will be important for children when they start school. They also will encourage families to play and interact together. That interaction and connection is critical to how strong a child’s brain grows.
The set of decals included a school house, a numbered hopscotch and a variety of play designs with numbers and letters on the sidewalk leading up to the playground.
Improvements to the park included a new basketball court, walking path, new lighting, landscaping and improved parking.
Beyond stimulating young minds to be receptive to learning, play is a necessary component of brain development for children.
The decals are wonderful projects for civic and community groups, but individuals can sponsor them, too.
Cantonment Rotary Club was among the first groups to commit to the decal project, sponsoring nine decals in Carver Park, a neighborhood park on Webb Street in Cantonment.
Pensacola resident Ella Manziek sponsored a set of decals at Henry Wyer Park on the corner of Belmont and Reus streets.
Make Play Smart Early Learning decals are among several SCI projects that aim to improve kindergarten readiness in the community by teaching parents how language and interaction build a child’s brain during the first three years of life.
Early brain development is critical to the foundation of a child’s readiness for school, ultimately putting that child on a path to success in school and life.
That is so important in places like Escambia County, where state education data in 2018 showed a kindergarten readiness rate of 45 percent.
That means of the nearly 3,000 children who enter kindergarten in Escambia County, less than half of them don’t have the fundamental language and academic skills they need to be ready for school.
Research shows play-based learning enhances children’s academic and developmental learning outcomes. It can also help prepare children for success in school and in life by teaching them relevant skills.
Children are naturally motivated to play. A play-based program builds on this motivation, using play as a context for learning. In this context, renovated and reinforced at Morris Court playground, children can explore, experiment, discover and solve problems in imaginative and playful ways.