NEW BLOG POST: Play: Are we losing it in our preschool and kindergarten classrooms? - Written by Amy Murrin - A-Karrasel Child Care Center

Play: Are we losing it in our preschool and kindergarten classrooms?

Written by:  Amy MurrinCurriculum Director, Lead Head Start teacher at
A-Karrasel Child Care Center.

As the new school year approaches, I am asking if the amount of required “curriculum” that is being added to the classroom in our preschools and kindergarten is appropriate and is it impacting the amount of learning that is happening, by the reduction of play experiences? Is the curriculum being driven by the child’s interests?  Are the children losing opportunities to negotiate rules, solve problems, assign social roles, and just let the fun they are having progress play to new levels?

Emergent curriculum and the positivity of presenting studies as curriculum have historically been considered to be child driven. If the child has interest in the play, they will instinctively push themselves to achieve a higher level of development as they further investigate the knowledge that they are learning.  In such cases, the children learn at the rate that is best achieved based on their own individuality - important scaffolding!

Within the past year, I have seen the amount of play in my own classroom diminish as I am extending large group gatherings to include the required activities, that are dictated by the required “curriculum”.  I have seen the children squirm, lose interest in gatherings, and become detached during these large group gatherings. I have seen our block of time for play activities shortened, in order to present the required lesson plans. My co-teacher and I were spending too much time presenting the lessons, rather than playing within the centers! Behaviors and rough play were becoming more and more prevalent during the day. 

We were losing the children! In my classroom we needed to come up with a plan to reignite the play and the interests of the children. How could we get the children excited with learning, promote their self-esteem, and encourage language and social skills? By going back to the basics that early childhood educators know is the best way to educate our young children! We gave the curriculum back to them! We spent more interactive time talking with them within their play activities. We helped them to negotiate problems and social situations themselves. We helped them to discover topics that were important to them. WE PLAYED WITH THEM!!

What were the results we observed? Children who were more engaged in the classroom activities. We saw improved language and social skills while they negotiated with each other to help establish fairness and inclusion of all classmates. We saw attention span increased as the children successfully challenged themselves to pursue a new skill set. We observed better peer coaching and assistance.  And perhaps one of the most impressive results – we observed an eagerness to learn letters, numbers, and writing skills that were accomplished by following the individual child’s interest, resulting in success that felt child driven! 

I am asking early childhood educators to please speak out on behalf of young children, so we can better help each child reach their highest potential. 

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