Each day during March, I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Story Challenge (SOLSC). All participants are writing about one moment, one part of their day, every day for thirty-one days. My slices will be primarily about teaching preschoolers. Check out the Two Writing Teachers website for lots more reflections on teaching. Thanks especially to Stacey, Tara, Anna, Beth, Dana, and Betsy for hosting this writing challenge.
I have spent a good bit of time this weekend drafting report cards for second trimester. For each preschooler, I prepare a narrative focusing on their social-emotional, cognitive, and academic progress.
It's amazing what jumps out at me, today - in time for a blog post!
As I write, for example,
- about her love for building ramps, how this is where she heads whenever she has free choice of activities, and that she has a precise plan for what she will construct...or
- about his willingness and readiness to try every new activity, however, he quickly runs off when something is more difficult or challenging then he imagined...
I realize (again!) that children's play provides tremendous insight into how they learn.
How he himself learns.
How she herself learns.
I fully believe adults can help foster stronger academic skills through play. Playing off the two examples above, I would look for ways to help them extend their focus, or ways to help them consider another idea than the one they had originally.
However, writing report cards, it leaps off the page how children are helping themselves develop stronger academic skills through their play. I see them -
gaining more patience,
being more flexible,
Juxtapose this insight with a brief conversation I had recently with an acquaintance, a young father, upon meeting his three year old child, who will turn four late next fall.
"Oh, so will he start preschool/pre-k 3 in the fall?"
"Oh, no, I hope not. He's already in a daycare program. They play too much. I want him with older kids. He's really smart. I'm going to see if I can get him in with 4 and 5 year olds. I want him to learn to read and to write his name."
To which I quickly (and somewhat aggressively, I realize now) responded,
"May I give you my two minute preaching on this subject? This is the age I work with every day...three year olds...you want him in a good quality play-based program. Let him learn about himself, what excites him, what is fun, how to speak up, ask questions. You want him playing right now, working with other children, learning how to be a great friend. Seriously, don't rush him."
The look my acquaintance gave me as he scooted away assured me he thought I was nuts.
Can a nut plant seeds?