Miss Betty's "Philosophy"

This document was written by Betty Stonorov for an Annual Meeting of the Playschool Board and League, and is the best written portrayal of her ideas. She was greatly influenced by the educational and child development theories of John Dewey and Erik Erikson, among others. 

The Charlestown Playhouse got its name after a great deal of thought and discussion in the year 1936. The building was to be for children and the most important thing for children was, and still is, Play...
so that’s why it was so named.

Do we stop to think of just what Play means? Take some of the main areas children use in Play. Children building blocks are not just piling pieces of wood on top of each other – they are developing muscular coordination, their constructions involve numbers, sizes, weight, balance and design. They are reproducing real life situations and learning to understand them.

In the house corner, the children are not just dressing up, pouring tea, putting the doll to bed – they are learning to identify with adult roles and are involved in group play of ideas and communications.

At the sand table they are not just making a mess – they are learning to pour, sift, measure and fill.

At the easel, they are not just dripping paint to be wiped up – they are coordinating their hand and eye muscles. They are gaining self discovery and exploring in colors and forms.

At the science table they are learning new vocabulary and getting acquainted with new plants and creatures.

There are many more activities – all are learning ones and help the child to understand himself and the world about him a little better.

Some of you have heard me speak of our philosophy many times and I try to think of a different way of telling it, but even in this changing world, I believe our aims are still as they have been and our hopes for you and your children’s experience here are the same.

Here are some of them:

For parents – we hope that you will find this shared family experience will help you to understand your own child better and, far from separating you and your child; it will make your relationship more satisfying and meaningful. From the opportunity of working with and observing many children comes deeper understanding of your own.

We hope it will give you a realization of what you feel is important and what values you want to hold onto.

We hope you will share with the school your special interests and talents, in this way making it richer for all of us. And also giving your child a way to feel important: “My daddy built that swing.” “My mommy brought her guitar and played.”

For the children – our hopes are many – we want him to feel good about himself – that’s about the most important. We know he must have good feelings about himself if he is to have them for another and to be able to give and accept love.

We want him to be able to control himself for we believe in limits and discipline and we feel the best discipline is self-discipline.

We want him to gain in his ability to be creative, to be able to use many different materials in his own way.

We want him not to be afraid to try and we want him to have a chance to make mistakes because that is learning too.

We want him to feel a part of the group, to be able to talk and express his feelings. We want him to find friends.

We want him to be aware of others’ feelings and to feel comfortable with himself, to feel good about his school and his teachers.

We know these children are young but we believe Playschool can be a first step toward helping to build citizens who will one day be able to take their place with confidence, joy and love in our democracy.

~ Miss Betty