Play is Open-Ended
Work with blocks in the Lower School stands out as a hallmark of C&C’s educational practice. Blocks are emphasized because they are an ideal tool for a child’s play. Blocks, like paint, clay, water, and wood-working materials, are open-ended: children must provide the form and meaning, and must do the “work.” Blocks are both fixed and flexible, meaning a child can build something particular with the blocks, but that thing can be taken down, changed or shared. They have infinite possibilities for the imagination, and provide an ideal context for social interaction, as well as independent play.
In the decisions teachers make about space, materials, and time, they create the opportunities for children's active participation and a social atmosphere that will invite children's interests and questions. It is in such working together that a partnership is created between children and teachers.
Additionally, much of the children’s work is grounded in a social study, such as the Vs’ exploration of C&C, both the buildings and people who work in them. What they have learned and observed is reflected as the children build C&C in blocks. When play happens in a tangibly meaningful context, the concepts and skills learned are all the more powerful and relevant.
“When children learn to rely on themselves for playtime — improvising props, making up games and stories — they're actually developing critical cognitive skills, including an important one called ‘executive function,’ they say. Essentially, executive function is the ability to regulate one's own behavior — a key skill for controlling emotions, resisting impulses and exerting self control and discipline.”