As we let our babies "play" (read: stare at each other's faces as we bounced them on our knees and gossiped) we chatted about school and the crazy kindergarten curriculum and how little the kids get to play. Listening to her talk about how academic kindergarten is made me step back- I know it's crazy academic and last year when I was supporting children in their general education classrooms I was able to stand back and see just how inappropriately academic it is. But in my new role as a classroom teacher I feel the pressure to get things done more than ever- and my students are even further behind than their general education peers- and I'm just coming back from maternity leave- pressure, pressure, pressure- time to push, push push!! Even though I sigh at the loss of free play opportunities I've made very few opportunities in my classroom for play- and my kids are the ones who need it the most. When I do let them play I'm sitting behind them with a clip board to analyze their conversation and play skills. The poor, poor kids in my class.
Mulling this over I rearranged my schedule to give myself more time for reading workshop in the morning and more time for free choice in the afternoon. So far it's going well. (yes, something had to go- it cuts into our math time, which, yes, is a shame, but it was a LONG math block anyway...)
Splattypus had also been discussing ways to put play into the school day outside of just free choice. This got me thinking as well. I have a retelling and sequencing center but some of my kids have a very hard time sequencing personal events using pictures of what we did. I show them pictures of us making ice cream and they have trouble identifying what we did first and last. For many of them sequencing personal events is an IEP goal and so we work on it frequently, but it hasn't been going overly well.
So, trying to add a little more play into my day, remembering how young my children are (and mine are younger than most considering their developmental delays) I've turned my retelling center into more of a play center. I took a tub and made it the ice cream maker. I added bowls and spoons from our kitchen center, a measuring cup and an empty bag of sugar. The children can act out how we made the ice cream at the center. They are still sequencing the steps and following the pictures of what we did first, second, and third- but because they are pretending that they are making the ice cream they seem to be able to understand sequencing a little better. So far it's gone well- clearly they love the center. Next step will be to add puppets or stuffed animals to reflect a book we've read so they can act that out. We'll see how it goes...