|"A nice day at the amusement park with colourful flags": A play scene at my "nature art" table last year.|
Tuesday, 26 February 2013
A great time to be in Kindergarten
It is a very good time to be a young child in Ontario. The new FDL-K (Full Day Learning Kindergarten) brings with it a rewritten ministry document, one that outlines all the ways in which young learners are ready to learn, to share their ideas, and to test their theories of mind. In other words, the new document, while it outlines the same learning expectations as our 2006 Kindergarten program, has a new introduction to highlight the importance of play. Play, not as a reward for a task completed or for time in-between lessons, but play as the vehicle for all learning. This new spotlight on the developmental stages of the learning goals requires a different style of teaching than what many of us were exposed to as beginning teachers. Whole-group, skill-specific lessons have given way to many flexible-group inquiries taking place at a time, some for a day or two, some for weeks. Project-based teaching is something I believe allows me to meet the needs of my students in a meaningful way that was not possible when all students were studying the same themes or ideas at the same time. Students take ownership of the knowledge they gain through inquiry projects, and they in turn teach their peers what they've discovered. With less opportunity for comparing themselves to one another (the first one finished, the one who reads without help, the one who needs more time) students are less concerned with making mistakes and therefore feel safe trying new activities. I have seen the way reluctant speakers open up and become active agents in an area of comfort during play. I have seen students teach a friend a skill they learned, be it how to make a ramp, how to cut a heart-shape, or how to open their snack, and I have delighted in the problem-solving that occurs when I'm busy playing somewhere else. In fact, I've never enjoyed teaching more.