April 23, 2021

Fresh Take: Christina Martin on How Children Learn Through Play

Christina Martin, head of The Children's School, tells us how children learn through play, and why the concept of play is central to the tenets of progressive education. Christina explains the power of play and how to make it a practice in your home.


Christina Martin is the Director of Curriculum and Instruction at The Children's School, an independent progressive K-8 school in Oak Park, Illinois. She has taught elementary, middle, and high school, with special areas of interest in play and project-based learning, math, social justice, and democratic practices in the classroom.

Progressive education has its roots in play– but for many parents the connection between play and learning is not soobvious. Christina explains why play as simple as building with blocks can teach kids real-life skills from cooperation to physics! "Rich" play doesn't need to (and probably shouldn't) involve expensive toys. Instead, rich play often happens most effortlessly outside, where kids can make a mess, use their imaginations, and learn by exploring their world. When we guide children towards rich play and set up expectations around play in our homes, we offer a world of opportunity to our kids.

In this conversation Christina explains why play is central to education at The Children's School, and how all of us can use the progressive-education concepts of play to help our children learn at home.

Find out more at www.thechildrensschool.info or on Facebook @TheChildrensSchoolIL.


For further resources regarding progressive education, check out these articles:

Alfie Kohn, Progressive Education: Why It's Hard to Beat, But Also Hard to Find

A Conversation with Vivian Guss Paley on Children's Play 

Play-Based Learning by Daniel P. Ryan

DEY #Teachers Speak Out, a mini-documentary on the importance of play

Carol Black, A Thousand Rivers


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