What did you learn in your summer reading and writing of the ROL that EVERY teacher should know regarding the topic?
Play is student’s natural way to learn and communicate. It is through play that children can strengthen themselves in all areas of development including cognitive, language, physical and social/emotional growth. In addition, play has been linked to many successes including brain development, reduced aggression, and opportunities to problem-solve and act creatively. Longer periods of play in Kindergarten give students time to cultivate learning situations including opportunities to work through life’s difficult situations in which they develop greater problem solving skills.
Why should/how is your topic (be) important to others who teach in your level/concept area?
Our schools in America have been focusing on outcomes, test scores and standardized test however, play has shown to increase student’s abilities in all areas. Teaching with play in the forefront is developmentally appropriate and a necessity that all our children should have in kindergarten. Our students and our world need child-centered play programs emphasizing creativity in order to help create learners who can problem-solve, communicate, collaborate, be innovative and think creatively to solve the unknown dilemmas of the world.
This year I have increased the time I spent on free play from 30 minutes to 45 minutes. In addition, I’ve opened up all areas of my classroom as play opportunities for children at this time. My plan also includes providing more opportunities for story retelling.
I’ve changed the implementation of my learning centers to include a combination of student led and teacher led opportunities. Student’s now have opportunities to pick which center to participate in and what they choose to play/explore at that center.
In an effort to focus on creativity, I am changing my expectations of what I expect for quality work and am allowing student’s time to develop their skills as drawers. We watched the youtube video “Austin’s butterfly” and are discussing how to add details to our work. I will also provide more opportunities for students to choose if they want to work independently, with a partner or as a small group. They will also be given times throughout the year in which they will work as a class to create a seasonal mural. They will plan, design, prepare materials and create the mural as to how they see fit. The creativity options are also enhanced through the new play opportunities. They will have more time to role-play and work through social situations to build their problem-solving repertoire.
Lastly, I will make additional opportunities for students to move within the daily routine. I’ve added three specific times throughout the day for class games/community building activities. We do daily yoga and brain breaks as well. Moreover, the research has taught me to take a step back from my expectations and give students time to move, wiggle and sit differently then I’d prefer. I’ve taken away chairs at the art table and raised the table to allow for more movement and I’m working on getting a class yoga ball for “movement breaks.”