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It's All About Play

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HQ Kindergarten. SEL & APL LEARNING STANDARDS FINAL DRAFT for PDF 1 12 15. In Mass. schools, a focus on well-being. READING — The only sound that could be heard in Maria Simon’s first-grade classroom one December morning was the soothing hum from a vibrating Tibetan singing bowl. Her students had gathered on a brightly colored rug at the back of the classroom, sitting with their eyes shut, their legs crossed, and their arms extended outward palms up. Each time a classmate struck the small bowl with a mallet — releasing a low sounding gong — the students breathed in. Then as the sound faded away, they breathed out. The exercise lasted about five minutes, and they started their math lesson. Advertisement “It helps give us a few minutes of peace and quiet so we can focus on our work,” said one student, Grace Hayes. This moment of “mindfulness” in Simon’s classroom is part of a broader effort at Birch Meadow Elementary School and Reading’s eight other schools to help put students at ease and get them more in tune with their emotions, and one another, so they can concentrate on learning.

Recess Too Short for Analytical Thinking, Play Expert Asserts - Early Years. Report debunks ‘earlier is better’ academic instruction for young children. Four- and 5-year-old students listen to their teacher, Angie Clark, read at a Des Moines elementary school in 2011. (Steve Pope/AP) The debate about appropriate curriculum for young children generally centers on two options: free play and basic activities vs. straight academics (which is what many kindergartens across the country have adopted, often reducing or eliminating time for play). A new report, “Lively Minds: Distinctions between academic versus intellectual goals for young children,” offers a new way to look at what is appropriate in early childhood education. The report was written by Lilian G. Katz, professor emerita of early childhood education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she is on the staff of the Clearinghouse on Early Education and Parenting. Katz writes that longitudinal studies of the effects of different kinds of preschool curriculum models debunk the seemingly common-sense notion that “earlier is better” in terms of academic instruction.

As Children’s Freedom Has Declined, So Has Their Creativity. Less-structured time in children's daily lives predicts self-directed executive functioning | Developmental Psychology. 1Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO, USA2Department of Psychology, University of Denver, Denver, CO, USA Executive functions (EFs) in childhood predict important life outcomes. Thus, there is great interest in attempts to improve EFs early in life. Many interventions are led by trained adults, including structured training activities in the lab, and less-structured activities implemented in schools. Such programs have yielded gains in children's externally-driven executive functioning, where they are instructed on what goal-directed actions to carry out and when.

However, it is less clear how children's experiences relate to their development of self-directed executive functioning, where they must determine on their own what goal-directed actions to carry out and when. We hypothesized that time spent in less-structured activities would give children opportunities to practice self-directed executive functioning, and lead to benefits. Kindergarten has changed: Less time for play, more time for standardized tests. Photo illustration by James Emmerman. Photo by Thinkstock. One of the first times New Orleans kindergarten teacher Molly Mansel gave her class a computer-based standardized test last fall, the 30 5-year-olds didn’t know how to take it. The children, raised in the era of the mighty touchscreen, were instructed to use a computer mouse to take the test. Instead, they kept trying to swipe the laptop screens like they were iPhones.

Recent research out of the University of Virginia shows that contemporary kindergarten teachers spend much more time teaching academic skills—skills that are often tested—than they did 15 years ago. And they spend significantly less time on dramatic play and art. Mansel’s students started taking tests just three weeks into the 2014–15 school year. The rest of the demanding testing schedule involves repeated administrations of two different school-mandated tests. The influx of formal testing in kindergarten marks a decades-long metamorphosis of the grade. Too much homework? Study shows elementary kids get 3 times more than they should. Parents, you aren't imagining it: Your kids may be struggling with too much homework. Just in time for back-to-school season, a new study has revealed that elementary school students get three times more homework than is recommended for children their age.

The study, published in The American Journal of Family Therapy, explored issues of homework and family stress by surveying nearly 1,200 parents. What came to light is this: Children in kindergarten, first grade and second grade may be hitting the books too hard in their after-school hours. Education leaders with both the National Education Association and the National Parent-Teacher Association recommend a "10-minute rule" that increases gradually as students age: no homework for kindergartners, 10 minutes for first-graders, 20 minutes for second-graders, 30 minutes for third-graders and on up to the 12th grade, when students could handle about 120 minutes of homework a night. Juriah Mosin / Shutterstock Matt Wittmeyer for NBC News. Let the Kids Learn Through Play. Photo TWENTY years ago, kids in preschool, kindergarten and even first and second grade spent much of their time playing: building with blocks, drawing or creating imaginary worlds, in their own heads or with classmates.

But increasingly, these activities are being abandoned for the teacher-led, didactic instruction typically used in higher grades. In many schools, formal education now starts at age 4 or 5. Without this early start, the thinking goes, kids risk falling behind in crucial subjects such as reading and math, and may never catch up. The idea seems obvious: Starting sooner means learning more; the early bird catches the worm.

But a growing group of scientists, education researchers and educators say there is little evidence that this approach improves long-term achievement; in fact, it may have the opposite effect, potentially slowing emotional and cognitive development, causing unnecessary stress and perhaps even souring kids’ desire to learn. Continue reading the main story. All Work and No Play: Why Your Kids Are More Anxious, Depressed - Esther Entin. For more than fifty years, children's free play time has been continually declining, and it's keeping them from turning into confident adults What are your memories of playing as a child?

Some of us will remember hide and seek, house, tag, and red rover red rover. Others may recall arguing about rules in kickball or stick ball or taking turns at jump rope, or creating imaginary worlds with our dolls, building forts, putting on plays, or dressing-up. From long summer days to a few precious after-school hours, kid-organized play may have filled much of your free time. Play time is in short supply for children these days and the lifelong consequences for developing children can be more serious than many people realize. An article in the most recent issue of the American Journal of Play details not only how much children's play time has declined, but how this lack of play affects emotional development, leading to the rise of anxiety, depression, and problems of attention and self control. 1. Putting Play Back in Kindergarten Curricula.

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children Play is making a comeback in kindergarten classes located in the Maryland suburb of Pasadena, according to a recent New York Times article, “Kindergartens Ringing the Bell for Play Inside the Classroom.” But support for play varies based on class-related ideas about what children need most: more play or more academics. Describing Pasadena’s new approach to play, the Times writes: “Mucking around with sand and water. Playing Candy Land or Chutes and Ladders. Cooking pretend meals in a child-size kitchen. Dancing on the rug, building with blocks and painting on easels. “Call it Kindergarten 2.0.” “Concerned that kindergarten has become overly academic in recent years, this suburban school district south of Baltimore is introducing a new curriculum in the fall for 5-year-olds.

Some teachers are excited about the new approach. “But educators in low-income districts say a balance is critical,” the Times notes. Some parents also want more academics. Fun and Play are Good for Kindergarten – What a Surprise | Still Advocating. The headline in today’s Chicago Tribune reads “Fun plays a part in learning, study says” in the print edition and “Focus on play in kindergarten may improve grades” online. Who knew? Well, I did, along with pretty much anyone who has taught preschool or kindergarten. Dare I say, even first and second grade teachers know this in their hearts? Literally constructing knowledge According to the article in the Tribune, the Tools of the Mind program and others that approach educating young learners in a similar way are not hard to implement. Teachers just need to “organize shared cooperative activities designed to promote social-emotional development and improve thinking skills. They combine reading, mathematics and science activities with child-directed activities and structured sociodramatic play.”

So now we have scientific proof that fun and play are far more effective than drilling little kids with letters, numbers, and miscellaneous facts. Allyson P. Why so many kids can’t sit still in school today. The Centers for Disease Control tells us that in recent years there has been a jump in the percentage of young people diagnosed with Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder, commonly known as ADHD: 7.8 percent in 2003 to 9.5 percent in 2007 and to 11 percent in 2011. The reasons for the rise are multiple, and include changes in diagnostic criteria, medication treatment and more awareness of the condition. In the following post, Angela Hanscom, a pediatric occupational therapist and the founder of TimberNook, a nature-based development program designed to foster creativity and independent play outdoors in New England, suggests yet another reason more children are being diagnosed with ADHD, whether or not they really have it: the amount of time kids are forced to sit while they are in school.

This appeared on the TimberNook blog. State-based Prevalence Data of ADHD Diagnosis (2011-2012): Children CURRENTLY diagnosed with ADHD (Centers for Disease Control) By Angela Hanscom local true. Let ‘Em Out! The Many Benefits of Outdoor Play In Kindergarten. For the typical American kindergartner, unstructured free play during the school day consists of 20 to 30 minutes of recess, and perhaps some time at indoor “stations” — perhaps creating with building blocks, costumes, or musical instruments. But what if there was more? What if the answer to “what did you do in school today?” Was, “I climbed a tree, played in the mud, built a fire”? That is exactly the kind of learning going on in the Swiss Waldkindergartens, or forest kindergartens, where children ages four to seven spend all of their school days playing outdoors, no matter the weather. With no explicit math or literacy taught until first grade, the Swiss have no set goals for kindergartners beyond a few measurements, like using scissors and writing one’s own name.

The children’s play may look like messing around, but Molomot said don’t be fooled: Even though Waldkindergartners engage in free play, there is more going on than first appears. Outdoor Kindergarten/Rona Richter. Why Kindergarten in Finland Is All About Playtime (and Why That Could Be More Stimulating Than the Common Core) “The changes to kindergarten make me sick,” a veteran teacher in Arkansas recently admitted to me. “Think about what you did in first grade—that’s what my 5-year-old babies are expected to do.”

The difference between first grade and kindergarten may not seem like much, but what I remember about my first-grade experience in the mid-90s doesn’t match the kindergarten she described in her email: three and a half hours of daily literacy instruction, an hour and a half of daily math instruction, 20 minutes of daily “physical activity time” (officially banned from being called “recess”) and two 56-question standardized tests in literacy and math—on the fourth week of school. That American friend—who teaches 20 students without an aide—has fought to integrate 30 minutes of “station time” into the literacy block, which includes “blocks, science, magnetic letters, play dough with letter stamps to practice words, books, and storytelling.”

A working paper, “Is Kindergarten the New First Grade? ED504839. MCMResearchSummary. Play and Children's Learning. Browse this selection of articles on play based learning from Young Children and Teaching Young Children. Assessing and Scaffolding Make Believe Play: Mature make-believe play provides unique learning opportunities Read more » Chopsticks and Counting Chips: Play and foundational skills don’t need to compete for the teacher's attention Read more » Playdough - What's Standard about It?

: Using playdough to address early learning standards Read more » Block Building and Make-Believe for Every Child: Encouraging boys and girls to try out the learning centers they don’t usually visit Read more » Block Off Time for Learning: When children play with blocks, they learn math, literacy, social skills and so much more Read more» Recess—It’s Indispensable: Test scores do not improve when recess is cut Read more » Why Do Babies Like Boxes Best? Global School Play Day Reminds Us Of The Importance of Play - Work in Progress. We Don’t Need to Get Rid of Common Core to Have Play in Kindergarten.

My first experience in elementary school was magical. My kindergarten teacher Mrs. Mantz was friendly and warm, and I remember meeting my first friend, Marwa, in the play area. I showed her around the kitchen pointing and telling her the names of different plastic foods as we played. Kindergarten was Marwa’s first experience in school and she was just beginning to learn English. Our time together in the play kitchen– or what I would later learn to refer to as the dramatic play center–developed her language skills as well as my own. Now, I enjoy observing young children read their environment and discover written words and new vocabulary through play when I have the opportunity to visit elementary schools.

Literacy and reading are everywhere– that’s the incredible thing about teaching young children to build language, listening, and reading skills. Teachers use learning standards to develop instructional strategies and an enriching environment to foster literacy skills. Finland’s teachers -- with less stress and more free time -- collaborate naturally. I was 21 and naïve. I had been offered a long-term job as a computer teacher at an urban elementary school outside of Boston, and I jumped at the opportunity—even thought I knew nothing about teaching. I had just graduated from college without taking a single education course. As a substitute teacher, I wanted to get my feet wet in a school setting, and see if I could make a career out of teaching. The principal assured me that the classroom teachers would join me for the lessons.

And I liked this idea of collaborating with other teachers. As an untrained teacher, I could use all the help I could get. But I soon found out that things wouldn’t go as I expected. My colleagues weren’t used to showing up to computer lessons. Once I had joined the staff, the principal sent out a message to my colleagues, requiring that they accompany me for these bi-weekly 40-minute lessons. Collaboration is all about the sharing of work. Tim Walker is an American teacher and writer based in Finland.

Why Playworks | Playworks. Nature preschools and kindergartens: Getting kids moving--and learning.