Thanks, Lynn, for bringing up this old problem of too much academics in Kindergarten. What I don't understand is how and why it is still happening. With all the research that supports children's need to play it simply does not make sense to me. We learn from brain researchers, psychologists, and educators that children are wired to learn and that children learn best using their senses while they are at PLAY – self chosen play where they can play uninterrupted for long periods of time. [And yes, children do have long attention spans when self-selecting and directing what they are doing.] We learn from nature research that children learn better when they have opportunity to be outdoors, exploring the world with friends, and taking risks to learn about their own inner selves and their ability to take risks and to be resilient. We learn from researchers like myself that children need to be nurtured spiritually (through connections, moments spent in wonder and joy, and growing in responsibility and respect of others, become kind and empathetic) all of which happen when children play. Play helps children to develop their own sense of who they are in relationship to the rest of the world. This is the work of a young child. It lays a foundation for becoming a teenager. Academic learning oozes from play if we let it occur naturally. In fact, learning happens alongside this important inner development and Kindergarten educators should not have to snick it in. Teaching only academics, in my mind, is a way of saying to the child, I do not trust that you can learn therefore, I must tell you what you need to know. I am saying, that children learn while they play because that is what they do! Of course, environment and caring adult companionship and friends are important too. But play is essential!
There is another discussion happening on Hello about stress. Naturally children are stressed. The world and the adults who live in it are not being particularly sound role models. On top of this, we are asking children to learn in a style that is not suited for their stage of development and they are robbed of playtime that might be a place not only for learning but also for emotionally release.
Here is my question…Why are we, as early childhood educators not listened to by those who write curriculum and impose those curriculums onto educators. When do we stand up to children's right to play?
And, how do we help a generation of educators understand what true play looks like…because that is a problem too….too much teacher guided activities and not enough freedom to really truly PLAY.
Here is an excellent current report (2019) that gives great support for PLAY in KINDERGARTEN called, Taking Back Kindergarten. On the last page my favorite "take away" is that as early childhood educators, we should not be "following" but we should be "leading". We should not be trying to emulate a public school model for older children which results in push down academics - we should be leading a developmentally appropriate child centered approach to education. Play pioneers understand that play is thinking, play is research, play is rigor! We know that play offers an amazing model for life long learning and education, birth - college and beyond
Please share this report!
What are you thoughts on the Play Spectrum by Kathy Hirsh-Pasek?
"The science tells us that there is incredible power in playful learning, an approach that brings together the action and fun of play with key elements of skills building and learning."