Play to Learn (House Bill 1569)

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The Play to Learn Act: A Refocusing of Early Childhood Education

Sometimes you just have to jump up, run around, and shake all the wiggles out! The Play to Learn Act, authored by Rep. Jacob Rosecrants, understands this truth. This bipartisan-supported act, also known as House Bill 1569, aims to get children actively involved in the learning process through play-based curriculum and focused movement.

“I genuinely believe children learn best through hands-on, play-based learning,” Rosecrants said. “It simply isn’t focused upon as it should be in our schools, as I saw with the experiences with my children in their early childhood education.”

Rosecrants believes this legislation could also help in another area of need, teacher retention: “The teacher shortage is felt sharpest in the early childhood grade levels,” said Rosecrants. “By letting prospective early childhood teachers know that they can teach kids the way they were taught to teach them, this legislation can be part of the solution to Oklahoma’s teacher retention problem.”

The bill seeks to incorporate play-based learning curriculum into early childhood education by implementing a strong recommendation, not a mandate.

According to the bill:

“It is the intention of the Oklahoma State Legislature through this act to focus on the importance of child-centered, play-based learning as the most rigorous and most developmentally appropriate way for children in the early childhood grade levels to learn literacy, science, technology, engineering, art and math academic concepts.”

On Tuesday, February 9th, House Bill 1569 unanimously passed the House Common Education Committee with a 14-0 vote.  Although the bill received unanimous support, a few questions and concerns were raised.

Initials questioned from the committee inquired as to why this bill was not filed as a resolution since the language did not include an actual mandate. In spite of lacking a mandate, Rosecrants maintained that altering state law would carry more weight in incentivizing a recommitment to play-based learning curriculum in early childhood education.

An amendment — to give the bill “some teeth” — was also added to prevent school officials from actively obstructing or preventing play-based learning. Again, while this amendment added a bit of fervor to the bill, it was still acknowledged by the committee that House Bill 1569 allowed sufficient flexibility and personalization as not to infringe on local control.

We will continue to keep you updated on the Play to Learn Act as it heads to the House floor for further consideration.

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