I’ve had some difficulty writing an entry this week because I’ve been rather depressed about the state of kindergartens in New York City schools. It’s becoming a cliché to say that they are becoming more and more like first grade but there does seem to be a lot of truth to that thought.
When I speak with administrators who have had Bank Street early childhood training, who understand how important play, inquiry and opportunities for social interactions are for young children and who STILL eliminate all opportunities for this to happen in their schools, I really do wonder what is happening? Why isn’t choice time and inquiry a priority for kindergarten classrooms?
Perhaps it has to do with the way that Choice Time is interpreted. I’ve been wondering about how my idea of Choice Time differs from what I’ve been seeing when I visit many kindergarten classes.
I always tried to encourage children to ‘think of the possibilities’. What can happen at this center? What’s the potential for these materials? What might we add to the center to broaden the potential? What center just isn’t going anywhere and what should we do about that? Should we add new materials? Should we just pack up the center and move on?
This was often a topic of discussion that I had with the children. Sometimes we charted ideas – (i.e. Here Are Some New Ideas for What We Might Do At the Sand Table). Other times, it was just an informal discussion that we had at meeting or among the participants at a particular center.
I don’t mean to imply that every Choice Time center, every day, was an earth-moving experience for the children or for me. What I am saying is that I always encouraged children and myself to think about how we could have new ideas about how to use materials and how the addition of new materials changed what children could do at a center.
Don’t we want children to become thoughtful, inquisitive readers, writers and mathematicians? Isn’t it logical to support these behaviors through play and exploration at Choice Time?
CLICK HERE to make a comment. I invite all readers (teachers,students, parents, grandparents, etc.) to leave comments. It would be wonderful to hear what you have to say so we can have more of a dialogue on the subject.