Sunday, March 27, 2011

Push down

I wanted to make sure you saw this article over at Slate. I didn't know about these two, independent studies on the importance of play in early childhood, and I am really glad to know about them and their consistent but independently reached conclusions that play is essential. Two more studies to point to in the growing body of data calling for a focus on play in early childhood education.

I think about this issue every day, about the pushing down of curriculum. I think about how my pre-K classroom for at-risk four-year-olds is what many people envision a Kindergarten classroom to be. I bend over backwards to keep our learning fun and hands-on and full of light-hearted exploration, but I'm still asking them to come meet me in what I have designed, and it normally involves numbers, letters, and concepts that they are expected to know before they get to Kindergarten in my school district. I jealously guard their precious self-directed time, but it's still not enough in a day of so much curriculum to get through. I think about how many middle-class peers of my low-income students, in their private preschools around town, are getting lots of richly resourced, free exploration time.

There are times when I'm proud of what my students are learning and all the fun they're having while they're learning, and then there are times (when I read this article for instance) and I think, yowza, my program is part of the problem.

I have a lot to think about.

1 comment:

  1. Launa,
    The pressures of working for a public school include non-educators deciding what (any) Pre-K should "learn."
    I have worked many years in early childhood in a public school setting. I know the delicate balance. I am so happy that you are disturbed by the scope of national trends being in direct conflict with current research. Remember that in 10 minutes a day, you can cover your district requirements. The rest of the day, rich exploration and play, social interaction, documentation, extended discourse, sensory exploration, storytelling, construction and materials will go above and beyond what is required. The first few years are the hardest, but I have no doubt, you are a creating an amazing learning experience and environment for your 4 year olds.