Is it ok to allow kids a free day

Discussion in 'Preschool' started by TeacherCuriousExplore, Dec 7, 2016.

  1. TeacherCuriousExplore

    TeacherCuriousExplore Cohort

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    Dec 7, 2016

    Hey you all,

    We are nearing the Christmas holiday and next week is our last week then we will be closed for Christmas and New Years.

    I have just been hired back to teach PreK in my parent's facility. Over the Thanksgiving break, I came and rearrange the classroom and created the centers. The teacher before me did not allow the children AT ALL to play so I have been allowing them to free play in centers for an hour over the past two weeks in the mornings. I do this because my first day back I noticed that the children lacked problem solving, self- help, and social skills during center play. Since I have been allowing an hour of non instructed play,they are now placing things neat when it is time to clean up, their cubbies are kept neat, and there is less fighting. After free play, I find a Christmas craft to do or we go into circle time and reading. They also are extremely deficient on reading comprehension and interest in books. Being that I now read to them, I noticed more and more students are going to the library center during free play. I even have one young learner to always go into the reading area and ask me what the words says in the books that she decides to read. This shows me that in January I can start on sight words and very early reading with her. Another young learner, enjoys the science center I fixed up and he also enjoys the objects in the manipulative area. He put together a puzzle by himself 2 days ago. To wrap up the day, I read another story and we go into music with movement or phonic awareness.

    Yesterday, we did free play, circle time and story. The Christmas activity that we did was put together the classroom Christmas tree and watched Rudolph the Red nose Reindeer. Today we will be doing free play, circle time, and watching A Charlie Browns Christmas.

    I do not do any small groups or teacher instructed groups as of yet. My mom told me to start fresh in January. So far I have done diagnostic assessments and will be having parent teacher conference next week.

    I wanted to know do you allow yourself and your young learners a break when it is nearing the holiday?
    Even though they are learning through play, I feel like I should be implementing teaching practices before it is too late.

    Their previous teacher had them since August and some are behind on letter recognition, name writing, and also number sense. Just a few things that they need before kindergarten
     
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  3. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    Dec 7, 2016

    What age? Can you include letter recognition in their circle time?
     
  4. TeacherCuriousExplore

    TeacherCuriousExplore Cohort

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    Yes, However we can not use the technique "Letter of the week". I teach the Alphabets using a song from the Early learning literacy model+ curriculum. They are 4 and 5 years old
     
  5. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    I think you are doing fine. As long as you have materials available for them to access letters and numbers, and you are singing songs about letters and counting and other skills, that's what is developmentally appropriate.
     
  6. TeacherCuriousExplore

    TeacherCuriousExplore Cohort

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    Yes my classroom is a print rich environment. I have words and letters everywhere.
     
  7. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    Dec 7, 2016

    They learn while playing. It will not hurt to have a little free time. They are learning social skills... how to interact with others when things aren't structured.
     
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  8. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Could someone answer a question for me? I thought preschool was supposed to do what kindergarten used to do, and prepare kids socially for school. I don't mean to criticize the academia, but when are kids now supposed to learn social skills?
     
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  9. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    Good question.

    WELL... social skills start at home but a majority probably don't get it. With the higher academic demands on K, a lot more academics are required in preschool. Not sure when and where social play is supposed to be covered.
     
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  10. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Dec 7, 2016

    I find it so sad that this question has to be asked at the preschool level. My grade 7s will be having, not a free day, but a day free from academics the week before our Christmas break and I know it won't be an issue at all with my administration.
     
  11. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Sure, but what about the social skills for school? All I see from academic preschool is a bunch of kids who have no idea how to act in a school in later grades.
     
  12. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    Dec 7, 2016

    This. While there's never a day in my classroom that's truly "free" of academics, there are plenty of times that perhaps stray from being perfectly standard/curriculum-bound. For example, we spent an entire half-hour block one time having a discussion that spun off of reading Wonder and a student's sharing of a connection to someone in their life: the conversation/discussion had there was more valuable than anything else we could've done during that time, even though it might not have pigeon-holed into a standard.

    Especially at the preschool level, I see nothing wrong with what you're saying (OP): really, I'm sure the kids will be doing a bunch of learning that day as it is, especially if you're framing the play they do in that fashion (i.e. they might be playing with Legos...and in an interaction, it might be counting the red blocks used to make the base or something like that...)
     
  13. ChildWhisperer

    ChildWhisperer Devotee

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    Dec 7, 2016

    They learn their social skills throughout the day, which just so happens to include academic time.
    Here is our schedule:
    8:45-9:45 includes arrival, bathroom/wash hands, breakfast, brush teeth, free reading (lots of social skills happen during this hour. They learn to interact with each other while getting certain tasks done)
    9:45-10:15 is circle time AKA academic time. We focus on calendar (my class can tell you all the months in order, days of the week, what month it is right now, what day is today, the number date, the year), weather, color recognition, shape recognition, letter recognition, counting & number recognition, and name recognition. My class is currently working on recognizing ("reading") color words & shape words. They can "read" all their classmate's names and rote count to 100.
    10:15-10:30 is physical movement time or outside time if weather is nice
    10:30-11:15 involves getting in line to wash hands (taking turns) and lining up by the door to walk to the cafeteria. They learn how to walk in a line in the hallway, sometimes this includes passing older kids (the school goes up to 6th grade). Once in the cafeteria, they get their sporks, straws, & napkins and walk to the table to wait for lunch (they're too little to walk through the line holding their own trays so we get it for them)
    11:15-12:15 is center time. A full hour of free play center time. They "work" on "socializing" with others, how to get along, solve problems/conflicts, explore the different centers, and just play. At least once a week, I will pull them for small groups during this time to work in handwriting.
    12:15-12:30 is story time. They listen to a story, I ask comprehension questions, we talk about the theme of the week and learn new vocabulary (this week, they are learning "hibernate, migrate, adapt")
    12:30-2:00 is bathroom (taking turns again. We only have one bathroom) and naptime
    2:00-2:30 is wake up, bathroom, and snack.
    Then we get ready to go home and they're either picked up or on the bus by 3:00

    As for a "break"/free play day. I always do this on days before holidays. We do a short/quick circle time instead of a full circle time. And I let them do centers for over an hour or we watch a movie during this time. We don't work on writing or talk about the theme or any of that.
    I do agree that preschoolers need more play time, but in this day and age when Kindergarten has become like 1st grade, preschoolers now need to step it up and learn more academic skills to be ready for K. It's sad but what can ya do?
     
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  14. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Dec 7, 2016

    I think an hour of free time PLUS a full holiday movie is A LOT of 'free time'. You could incorporate some academics into your centers or start a 'teacher center' for kids to rotate through in which you could integrate some literacy or early math skills into a holiday or other thematic activity.
     
  15. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    Dec 7, 2016

    It depends what you mean by "free time". I'd caution you against having a whole unstructured day. Young kids feel really uncomfortable when their regular schedule is disrupted, and this would be especially true if they've had inconsistent teachers throughout the year. You think they're bored with routine, but they probably actually really appreciate it. I say stick to what you normally do but insert more fun holiday activities into your routine.
     
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  16. GemStone

    GemStone Habitué

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    Dec 8, 2016

    Your whole afternoon is dedicated to bathroom and nap? Is that a public school program? The public school pre-k programs here are half day: 20 kids in the morning and 20 in the afternoon. I feel that is a better use of resources, unless you are gradually shortening naps as the year progresses.
     

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