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Free workshop turns playtime into learning time

Children learn best not by listening to lectures but by doing the one thing they most want to do anyway: playing.

Studies show that when parents and teachers encourage playing as a form of communication, connection and exploration, children develop strong social and academic skills that help build a firm foundation as they grow.

With these principles in mind, Longwood’s Early Child Development Initiative has established Learning Through Play, a Saturday workshop on campus with Dr. Lauren Wynne, assistant professor of counselor education. Parents and educators will learn how play-based learning at home, in the classroom and on the playground helps children develop self-awareness, vocabulary skills, persistence, self-control and social skills.

“Play really is the natural language of children,” said Dr. Sara Miller, assistant professor of education and the administrative director of ECDI. “As parents and educators, it’s important that we develop ways to interact with children to encourage them to explore their surroundings and grow into wonderfully inquisitive, intelligent people. That’s what these workshops are about.”

The first workshop will be held on April 9 in the ABC rooms of the Lankford Student Union. It begins at 8:30 a.m. with a continental breakfast and check-in and concludes at 2 p.m. Lunch will be provided.

The workshop is free and open to anyone who interacts with children — both parents and teachers are welcome — though participants must pre-register at www.longwood.edu/cehs/64229.