Welcome to Episode 32 of The Darlington Podcast!
In this episode, host Stefan Eady, assistant head of school for academic resources, talks with Pre-K to 8 Director Hope Jones about the power of play and, specifically, why play is critical to a child's development and learning process. In fact, when Darlington overhauled its daily schedule several years ago, this idea of creating more time for inquiry, exploration and ownership of learning was at the center of the process, and Hope shares why strategically balancing both structured and unstructured play creates a healthy environment for learning.
Stefan Eady has held a variety of different roles in communications, web development and information technology since he began working at Darlington in 1997. In 2016, he was named assistant head of school for academic resources and, in 2021, assistant head of school for academic affairs. He also teaches AP Computer Science. Stefan holds a B.A. from Berry College and an M.S.I.S. from Kennesaw State University.
Hope Jones has served as director of Pre-K to 8 since 2014 and has more than 30 years of experience in education. She holds a B.A. in Elementary Education and English from the University of Alabama – Huntsville as well as an M.A. in Middle Level Curriculum and Instruction from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. During her career, Hope has served in teaching and administrative roles in Alabama, Virginia, Washington, D.C., California, and Georgia.
In the podcast, Hope mentions two of her favorite books on this topic:
We've all seen the happiness on the face of a child while playing in the school yard. Or the blissful abandon of a golden retriever racing across a lawn. This is the joy of play. By definition, play is purposeless, all-consuming, and fun. But as Dr. Stuart Brown illustrates, play is anything but trivial. It is a biological drive as integral to our health as sleep or nutrition. We are designed by nature to flourish through play. A fascinating blend of cutting-edge neuroscience, biology, psychology, social science, and inspiring human stories of the transformative power of play, this book proves why play just might be the most important work we can ever do.
In modern childhood, free, unstructured play time is being replaced more and more by academics, lessons, competitive sports, and passive, electronic entertainment. While parents may worry that their children will be at a disadvantage if they are not engaged in constant, explicit learning or using the latest "educational" games, David Elkind's "The Power of Play" reassures us that unscheduled imaginative play goes far in preparing children for academic and social success. Through expert analysis of the research and powerful situational examples, Elkind shows that, indeed, creative spontaneous activity best sets the stage for academic learning in the first place.
The Darlington Podcast is a collaboration between the communication and advancement teams, and is hosted by various members of the school community. Episodes are released each Thursday morning and available on most podcast platforms (search for The Darlington Podcast in your podcast player). Once new episodes are posted, you'll also be able to find them at www.darlingtonschool.org/podcast. Please subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts so that you'll get the latest episode each week!
The Darlington Podcast intro music was written and performed by Elliot Luitwieler ('22) and Katherine Davidson ('22). Carson Raymond, director of major gifts, lends his voice, and editing and production is handled by Tannika King, director of communications.
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