Can’t we just let kids play?
Our educational system is consistently pushing unrealistic expectations on our children, especially in reading instruction. Just because a child is in kindergarten, does not mean that we should be expecting them to read. There are SO many foundational literacy skills that need to be mastered before learning to read, not to mention the social/emotional skills needed to simply exist in a classroom of 25+ 5 year olds today.
Kindergarten used to be full of play. The classrooms were full of objects that sparked our imaginations; pretend kitchens, baby dolls, wooden blocks, dress up clothes, light tables, paint, etc. The windows had bird feeders, colorful curtains, and sunlight shining in.
Now you walk into a kindergarten classroom and it looks more like a first or second grade room. Desks with assigned seating, trays for turning in work, giant white boards with weekly “Spelling Words” posted, teacher bought posters that are to be used as a “resource” for the students, names on the board of students that have misbehaved or forgotten homework, and worst of all… a designated space for the teacher’s desk.
Expectations on teachers are beyond unrealistic as well. They’re expected to have their kindergarten students to be reading on a certain level by the end of the year, keep daily lesson plans that correlate with standards, teach multiple subjects while also maintaining appropriate behaviors and attention from the children, etc. It’s practically impossible.
I don’t have a solution, but I do know what children desperately need at this age. They need to play and explore. They need to have time to be creative, develop positive relationships with peers, grow their imaginative thinking, and learn to follow multistep directions. Alphabet knowledge needs to also be taught, practiced, and mastered in small groups through direct, explicit instruction (another post about this coming soon!). All of the above can be implemented through informal, yet planned instructional time.
Let’s let kids be kids through intentional planning of play based learning!