WATERFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – In play, there is the magic of learning. That’s the theme in kindergarten classrooms at Oswegatchie Elementary School in Waterford.

It works because the young students drive their lessons by what they’re interested in.

The noise you hear in the kindergarten class is children conversing and learning and getting to be social. Students have put together a flower shop in the classroom.

It came about after they learned from an actual garden they have at the school. That leads to planting seeds, which then leads to the pretend business.

The student-driven teaching has come full circle for Rebecca Boyce.

“When I was in fourth grade, I had a teacher that let us build a log cabin in our classroom and I knew right then if I was going to be in education, that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to make it fun,” Boyce said. “They’re going to have much more motivation to learn if it’s driven by them and not by me.”

Don’t be fooled, the kindergarteners are getting in all their core requirements in this kind of teaching.

“For example, we just finished a writing unit. They had to choose something that they knew all about and write a book about it, and a lot of them took what we were studying from the garden and some people did things about ducks, some did things about worms,” Boyce said.  

“We are embracing the magic of childhood in the power of play and infusing those core content areas, so they are both playing and learning within the play at the same time,” said Joe Macrino, principal.

“In years past, in public education, we’ve always looked at the upper grades, what do we have to rush to get them prepared for, and along the way, we have lost that magic of childhood in the magic of learning,” Boyce said.

The bottom line is being mindful that even as students are moving up grades in elementary school, administrators are learning to embrace the inner kid in everyone.