More and more we are taking away the freedom of kids to explore their surroundings through their senses as they play. As teachers we have grown to clamp them down, all in the effort 'to teach', afterall, we only have them for a few hours of the day so we at least need to maximize that time we have with them. Wow! This is so wrong! Just imagine an entire kindergarten class being denied their playtime just because Miss did not like how they worked today. Really? Yes, Really! It does happen! Maybe not where you are, but some where out there it's happening!
In this age of testing and evaluation we have grown to sacrifice our children's natural disposition to explore their world all for the formality of education. As a teacher I have grown to understand that I must be able to facilitate learning through the quality of my interactions with my students. Essentially, I must consider the nature and characteristics of children and facilitate learning through play. As a kindergarten teacher I must assume different roles as a 'player' myself to get a better understanding of how I can facilitate learning in my classroom. At several times of the day I am an onlooker, a stage manager, a co-player and a play leader. As an onlooker I observe their play from a distance only offering views and comments when it is necessary. This can help me to understand their habits and their needs. As a stage manager I provide them with the necessary materials that they would need for their interactions with their world. As a co-player I get involved with them as they attempt to create their own knowledge. As play leader, I guide their thinking and learning through questioning and think alouds and model problem solving strategies.
For more information on the role of play in the classroom check out the articles below:
The Power of Play
The Joyful Illiterate Kindergarteners of Finland