By Lauren Midelton and Elissa Tischler, Kindergarten Teachers
To play or not to play? The answer could be detrimental. As Kindergarten teachers we recognize the importance of unstructured play and incorporating movement into daily learning. In Kindergarten at Hillel, children have the opportunity to engage in unstructured play two to three times a day.
Unfortunately, this is not the case elsewhere, and studies show that limiting playtime correlates to higher levels of anxiety and behavioral problems.
Now, following a slew of research, and the advocacy efforts of teachers and parents in several states, legislators across the country are seeing the value of recess, too, and are introducing legislation making recess mandatory, and providing more playtime during school hours.
In addition to getting fresh air, a change of scenery, and physical exercise, free play also provides students with valuable real-life lessons in communication, cooperation, and problem-solving. We often observe children working together to navigate social situations, such as taking turns, including others, and compromising. Upon returning to the classroom, we notice an increase in children’s focus, and ability to stay on task. These observations are supported by scientific study, as you can read here.
Additionally, within the classroom setting, we include movement within our lessons, such as using hand and body motions to learn sounds and high frequency words or acting out math problems. Moreover, frequent brain breaks are a part of our daily routine. These range from breathing techniques, yoga postures, and song and dance. The answer here at Hillel is simple: Play is the way!