How can kindergartens be more effective learning spaces

The importance of kindergartens in a student’s life cannot be over-emphasized. Sadly, the world is moving towards altering the tried and tested ‘play-based’ mode to the ‘learning-based’ mode which undermines the importance of play and interactivity in these vital initiation stages of a child’s life. Children today, are increasingly being forced to go the beaten path of literacy where the basics of phonetics, math and reading are taking up much of the time. The general word that is going around is that ‘there is plenty of time to play at home’. What administrators and policy-makers at many occasions are failing to grasp is the importance of inventive and make-believe play techniques in the early stages of a student’s life. As the child’s first interaction with the educational environment, kindergartens have a responsibility to carefully review their methods and steer clear of academic pressure or judgement based on standardized tests which follows a ‘one-size-fits-all’ mantra and ignores the individuality and uniqueness of each child. China and Finland are among the countries that believe in a playful kindergarten and a late entry into former classrooms. Quite unsurprisingly, students from these countries go on to be some of the brightest minds of the global generation. In Singapore, the Canadian International School (CIS) has always been a stickler to the play model and encourages long hours of teacher-student engagement in make-believe and role playing situations that have proven to boost intellectual, cognitive and social skills among the pupils.

So, how can a kindergarten be the perfect learning space for children and a kickstarter for their academic futures? Here are some pointers:

 

Child initiated play and experiential learning: Make time for play every school day, both indoors, outdoors and during recess. Ensure you have variety, inventiveness and interactivity in how play subjects are chosen. Items like make-believe, sensory, language, construction, large and small-motor, and mastery play have been known to be highly beneficial to overall intellectual development of the child. Also be open and discuss about the role and importance of play in kindergartens with the parents so that you have a support base for policymakers and administrators.

 

Developmentally appropriate practices: Switch from the on-size-fits-all module and treat each child individually with tailor made curriculum suiting his/her intellectual, cognitive and social needs. Recognize the difference between a fast reader and a fast painter and steer clear of standardized tests that may designate their deviations as abnormalities and disorders. Be flexible with teaching methods and work towards appropriate practices.

 

Research long term impact: Research current kindergarten practices and their long term impact on the psychological and cognitive growth of students. Done on a larger scale, this comparative study will be a key in understanding which developmental practices are failing and which are flourishing. Stick to the tested formula.

 

Teacher’s training: Invest in professional training and mentoring teachers on how to encourage the spirit of play and spontaneous ideating. Prepare coursework that supports mandatory play time every day. Teachers should be educated on how to encourage and support play especially in children who do not have too many opportunities at creative play or have poor self regulation skills.

 

Combat the crisis: Work across boundaries and geographies to combat the shift to learning-based kindergarten models. Build up awareness regarding the obstacles to play such as unsafe neighbourhoods, overscheduling of children’s lives, excessive screen time, toys linked to entertainment media, and education that emphasizes skills, drills, and homework and undermines creativity, imagination, and overall well-being.

 

Kindergartens are the platforms to brilliant academic futures and deserve policies and methodologies that make them effective and healthy as learning spaces. A coordinated effort from schools, teachers, parents and administrators can make this happen.

For more information kindly visit kindergarten singapore

Comments