Quick Notes on Play in a Head Start Classroom

Someone asked me these questions last year in an Email, and I am looking forward to playing tomorrow as we start our second week of class so here are some of my thoughts on the real work of preschoolers and preschool teachers.

 1. Name one thing children learn when they play together.

Children learn how to share space and problem solve, how to get what they want and take into account the needs of others. Also children learn how to have fun and stay safe within limits that allow others to cooperate with them, build collaborative ideas together.

2. How many times a day do you actively play with children?

20 to 30 times in a 3 1/2 hour class period.

3. What do you like to play with children?

Sometimes I am verbally playing. At meal times I will play rhyming games or joking play or ask riddles. During outside time we do a lot of singing and movement games. I like to sit and build or use construction materials with children. We do floor puzzles in small groups. I like to have a lot of active movement and games in circle, even reading books has a lot of playful interaction that teaches children how to have fun and stay within limits.

4. Name one problem adults have when playing with children.

Each child has a different temperament and style and sometimes the adult’s style does not interact well with the child’s in play situations. Some children are very serious and focused and do like interruptions, and adults often invade children’s space without consideration. Also some adults do not know how to set limits so that whatever play is going on feels safe for everyone. Adults often do not pay attention to children’s reactions to their actions and words.

5. Name one problem adults have when they play together.

The same things, some adults are very competitive and intense when they play or may need defined rules, whereas others are more into the flow of the game and the poetry, the unfolding story of it rather than rules.

6. What is the most important thing children learn when they play together?

They learn to adjust themselves to the world which includes their behavior, attitudes and how they deal with conflicts and respond in ways the makes sense to others as well as learning that people are fun to be with.

7. Do children ask you to play with them? Constantly in many different ways. Some will clearly ask with words. Some will begin by joking with me. Some will come up and push me while smiling. Some will say something like, “Nana, nana, boo, boo you can’t catch me!” and tear off in the opposite direction.

8. At what age do children play cooperatively in groups? True cooperative play usually starts in older three year olds or younger 4 year olds. But it all depends on the maturity and temperament of the child. Sometimes younger children look like they are engaged in cooperative play, but if you look closely they are engaged in parallel play in the same area.

9. Name one thing you learn when you play with children?

I learn about the child, how she plays and at what skill level– verbal, physical and cognitive as well as social– she is operating at. I learn what she likes and is inspired by. All of this helps me plan curriculum and help the parents plan activities that will best suit the child’s developmental needs. 


This entry was posted in conversations, developing relationships, lists, paying attention, philosophy, playing games, Questions and riddles, Teaching and Learning, thinking in words, working world and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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