Christina Weiland: “Play-based learning is more engaging, more likely to ‘stick.’”

March 13, 2019

A new documentary, produced by WTTW Channel 11 and the Midwest Early Childhood Research Alliance at REL Midwest, tackles the question "what can kindergarteners gain from play-based learning?" The documentary Kindergarten: Where Play and Learning Can Meet explores the advantages associated with a play-based approach in kindergarten by sharing scientific findings about the cognitive and social-emotional benefits of play from experts Dr. Christina Weiland (University of Michigan), Dr. Roberta Golinkoff (University of Delaware), and Dr. Eboni Howard (American Institutes for Research). The film features stories of how two Illinois school districts, Valley View School District 365U and Elgin Area School District U-46, made the transition to play-based learning.


Weiland discusses the differences between free-form play and guided play in which teachers provide intentional, play-based, academic curricula. Additionally, she says that research supports findings that play-based education also provides a context for the development of socio-emotional skills such as empathy, perspective taking, and peer negotiations.