We all know that the expectations of kindergartners have grown more rigorous, especially with the adoption of Common Core. The trickle-down-effect into the PreK arena is placing a burden on our youngest learners and their teachers. (I've just typed, deleted, and rewrote my next sentence 5 times.)
*Deep Breath*Our little ones need more time to play.
Our day: 150 minutes for Literacy, 90 minutes for math, 50 minutes for each-Science and Social Studies, 50 minutes for Ancillary classes, 30 minutes for lunch AND recess. When you do the math, it becomes clear that we aren't in the building long enough to accomplish all of this, especially when you factor in that our trips to the bathroom take at least 10 minutes each time (the bathrooms are on a different floor than our classroom, with girls and boys at opposite ends of the building). As a K team, we've gotten creative with the science and social studies blocking. And we try to work free choice into the afternoon --a 4 hour block with no transition or break--, with a small amount of time when we focus on intervention for struggling students.
~Which leads me to a mini rant on the fact that these children rarely get to play... the ones who need practice with language and social situations.~
I've also had time to update our class photo album. It's bursting with pictures of children building block towers, creating yummy things with playdo, imagining a different life for the manipulatives. These are the things that make them say, "Can you take a picture?". They beam with pride, joy, and abandon. They work things out with minimal involvement from me. Not long ago, I heard one of my girls tell a boy, while assembling a puzzle, "You need all kinds of help, boy. You should be glad I'm here!". His reply? "Yup." ;-)
My students live in an urban environment. I've been worried about them since day 2 of this break. Are they hungry? Did they find presents under the tree? Are they sleeping? Did they get enough hugs today? When I add the joyful photographs to the facts of their lives, I see play as vital. The way through circumstances, the practice of finding silver linings in the storm clouds, can be discovered with an active imagination. Learning to manage our emotions and engage others in socially appropriate ways can be discovered through play.
I want, need, to give my students more opportunities to imagine, to dream. I'm working on a Dream Journal idea, pondering a repositioning of subjects, tweaking station/center choices, ravaging my sons' Lego collection.
Do you want, need, to dream with me? Ideas welcome!