The University of New Hampshire's commitment to play-based coaching and teaching is grounded in evidence-based best practices, is informed by ongoing research, and supports collaborative statewide efforts in response to New Hampshire's 2018 play-based learning amendment and as part of the NH Preschool Development Grant (PDG).
The State of New Hampshire is at the forefront of educational reform, with leaders actively and passionately supporting Early Childhood Education and the implementation of best practices statewide. In August 2018, New Hampshire Commissioner of Education, Frank Edelblut, amended RSA 193-E:2-a, the Substantive Educational Content of an Adequate Education law, a bi-partisan bill spearheaded by former state representative and current DOE/UNH PDG Administrative Consultant Victoria Sullivan, which states:
"Instruction in support of kindergarten standards shall be engaging and shall foster children’s development and learning in all domains including physical, social, cognitive, and language. Educators shall create a learning environment that facilitates high-quality, child-directed experiences based upon early childhood best teaching practices and play-based learning that comprise movement, creative expression, exploration, socialization, and music. Educators shall develop literacy through guided reading and shall provide unstructured time for the discovery of each child’s individual talents, abilities, and needs."
According to Commissioner Edelblut, "This new provision was created out of an understanding that kindergarten was intended to be a means of socializing children and preparing them for formal education through four key components: exploration, movement, expression, and play. Rigorous structure and heavy curriculum are not intended to be part of the kindergarten experience. Rather, educating kindergarten age children can be done through social imitation, learning through expression, and unstructured play within the classroom setting."
The Preschool Development Grant (PDG) supports New Hampshire's efforts to better understand the current early childhood system and use those data to strengthen the system, better address the needs of vulnerable young children and their families, and help build a solid foundation to improve outcomes for New Hampshire's children, families, schools, and communities. The grant seeks to support New Hampshire's vision that all families are afforded comprehensive and responsive supports, so that they are healthy, learning, and thriving now and in the future.
The PDG aims to enhance collaboration and coherence within early childhood systems by sharing best practices among early childhood education providers in the state. A targetted activity of the grant is to support kindergarten teachers with the implementation of play-based learning and evaluate the effectiveness of embedded coaching to support guided play, classroom interactions, and child outcomes. Associate Professor and PDG primary investigator Dr. Kimberly Nesbitt, the UNH Early Learning Coaching Team, and PDG staff are spearheading efforts to share best practices and promote successful implementation of play-based learning statewide through practice-based coaching, professional development for key stakeholders, the creation and dissemination of resources, and research.
This website is supported by the Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five Initiative (PDG B-5), Grant Number 90TP0060, from the Office of Child Care, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.