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Throughout this book, we will engage in conversations from our differing perspectives
and invite readers to join us in considering different aspects of fully embracing play in
preschool and kindergarten classrooms. Parts 1, 2, and 4 begin with our thoughts about
provocative questions, from both a policy-making and teaching perspective. By focusing
on these two perspectives, we hope we can offer support and ideas to multiple audiences,
including administrators and policy makers as well as classroom teachers.
WHAT YOU WILL FIND IN THIS BOOK
Early in the writing of this book, we read Stuart Brown’s important book, Play: How It
Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul, in which he explores
the topic from the point of view of a physician (2009). In it, Brown shares the groundbreak-
ing work of Scott Eberle, editor of the American Journal of Play, and his six steps in the
cycle of play (later published in 2014):
Anticipation—expectation, wonder, curiosity, anxiety, uncertainty, risk
Surprise—discovery, new sensations or ideas, new perspectives
Pleasure—it feels good
Understanding—new knowledge, application of ideas
Strength—empowerment, confidence, new skills
Poise—grace, contentment, composure, and sense of balance (ready for
We have organized this book in four parts based on Eberle’s model.
Part 1: Anticipation
In chapters 1 and 2, we set the stage, asking questions about play and its proper definition.
We show how play actually helps build healthy brains. We show the value of child-directed,
open-ended play experiences and the importance of teacher support to enhance such play.
In chapter 3, we look at the purposes, design, and implementation of early learning stan-
dards for preschoolers and Common Core State Standards for Kindergarten. We address
facts and misconceptions regarding both.