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Learning by Living: The Importance of Free Play

One KG student carefully builds a caterpillar-like creature, showing awareness of colors and patterns, comparing the pieces as he adds a pair of eyes. Teacher Andrea asks if he can “make it angry” (they are working on emotions). Indeed, he can. He doesn’t say a word, but he shows that he understood Teacher Andrea as he slants the eyebrows to show an angry look.
A younger student has closely watched his friend build the colorful caterpillar. As the older boy starts to walk away, the younger one initiates cleanup and helps to put all the pieces in the box. His shows a developing sense of orderliness, while connecting with his friend at the same time to work together. It is a kind of wordless collaboration that the KG teachers work to encourage.

Throughout play time, teachers observe carefully and become familiar with each child’s ways of approaching new tasks as they learn to negotiate their space and toys with other children. It is part of a sense of belonging and being in a community that develops in children. By noticing each child, they can recognize when a child needs a little extra support or give recognition to a child who has suddenly initiated a new kind of negotiation with a peer.

Students observe and collaborate as they are ready
Each week, the KG-1 students are a little more interactive than the week before. Solitary play at age 3, near to their friends yet still independent, is important for learning about their own stories, thoughts, imagination. As children get older, they play more directly with friends, creating stories and developing their thoughts and imaginations together. Both solitary and collaborative types of play are valued by teachers and students alike. Teachers notice when students shift their types of interaction as signs of change, and may consider why students are choosing one type over another.

A young KG girl builds a tower today within a pretend courtyard, adding colorful beads inside, beads that she has played with all morning and found several different ways to use them.

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