During a recent virtual tour of Bixby for a prospective family, one of the parents asked me “how much play is built into the school schedule?” I paused for a while as I thought about how to answer this question. I paused because the question implied a distinction between “play” and “learning” that is at odds with how I think about what happens at Bixby. Indeed, there is so much learning that happens through play. Play is a powerful catalyst for academic as well as social-emotional learning. When kids play they naturally experiment, make connections, apply prior knowledge, navigate conflict, exercise critical thinking, and so much more. Just as important, they learn about what brings them joy, and the enjoyment that can come from discovering new ideas. Certainly, Bixby students at times experience learning as demanding, not their preferred activity or, well, simply hard work. Bixby students also have frequent opportunities to engage in imaginary play, physical play, and games. But having the experience of learning through play is what lays the ground work for a lifetime of learning. It brings me such joy to watch our preschoolers learn about shapes by investigating the tires of cars in the parking lot, to see our Kindergarteners gain literacy skills through telling stories about what they observed at Bridgewalk pond, elementary students understanding multiplication through quilt patterns learning about early humans by inhabiting the imaginary world of animals as they stalk their prey or humans hunting for food. This is why I love children and this is what I love about Bixby. Each spring, I interview our 5th graders and ask them for feedback and ideas for our school. One of the first questions I ask is “What 3 words come to mind when you think about Bixby?” Students provide a wide variety of answers but the one that I hear almost every time is “Fun”.
Head of School