The Missouri Reader Vol. 41, Issue 1 - Page 45

When I look at the block center, I see so much more. My students first created a plan by using their words to communicate. Then, they used teamwork and social play to begin working on their plan. When problems arose they experimented and problem-solved to make their design even greater. “This block play episode combined elements of math, science, social skills, and language and contained learning far beyond the kindergarten standards” (Andrews, 2015, p. 11).You may ask yourself how a simple morning tub, cash register, or sensory bin could make such an impact on my students. I believe that play and sensory experiences are a crucial aspect of a child’s development and educational growth. “Play is the fundamental means by which children gather and process information, learn new skills, and practice old ones” (Gilbert, Harte, & Patrick, 2011, p. 30). As an educator, it is my job to create learning opportunities for my students that require them to explore possible answers, develop their questioning skills, and verbalize their thoughts.

At the beginning of each school year, my students enter into my classroom with a diverse set of needs. Many students have not been exposed to pre-kindergarten programs. In today’s educational world, we view school readiness as purely academic. “School readiness is more than academics. It also includes children’s physical, social, and emotional progress” (Gilbert et al., 2011, p. 29). There is a clear deficiency in problem-solving abilities, social skills, and a lack of imagination. These are skills that are essential to their overall development. Today, in the world of education, we place such a high value on academics, test scores, and rigor. “The latest research indicated that, on a typical day, children in all-day kindergartens spend four to six times as much time in literacy and math instruction and taking or preparing for tests (about two to three hours per day) as in free play of “choice time” (30 minutes or less)” (Miller & Almon, 2009, p. 11).

I want to convince you that play is an equally important aspect of education because I have seen firsthand what a difference it makes in my students’ learning. Take the time to find ways to incorporate questioning, play, and exploration into your classroom. The amount of creativity and determination will amaze you. Plus, I just bet your effort will be rewarded with countless smiles, giggles, and hugs. Let’s bring the excitement of learning back to kindergarten!

References

Andrews, N. (2015). Building curriculum during block play. Dimensions of Early Childhood,43(1), 11-15.

Gilbert, J., Harte, H. A., & Patrick, C. (2011). Purposeful play leads to school readiness. Dimensions of Early Childhood, 39(1), 29-37.Henniger, M. (2009). Teaching young children: An introduction. Upper Saddle River, NJ:Merrill/Pearson.

Miller, E., & Almon, J. (2009). Crisis in the kindergarten: Why children need to play in school. College Park, MD: Alliance for Childhood.

Aileen Cogo teaches kindergarten in the Rockwood School District. She holds a Bachelors in Early Childhood Education from Webster University and is pursuing a Masters of Educational Literacy through Missouri State University.She loves watching her students

grow and helping them develop a passion for learning!

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Classroom CloseUP