I Play with Support and Understanding
Just like the children in my classroom, I love creating. The part of my work that allows me to model creation is extremely fulfilling. However, I try to make sure that when I create, it is always with a sense of purpose. As summer comes to an end, I am excited to introduce our classroom to a whole new group of children. This once took the form of a heartfelt letter, and has since progressed to multi-media formats that allow for an increasingly unique introductory experience. No matter what the communication platform, it is essential that we are clear both what and why we want to share.
As children and families prepare for Kindergarten, it is a joyful time. It is also a time of change and anxiety due to the unknown. Parents may be sending their first born off to public school for the first time. Children may be transitioning to a new building with unfamiliar faces. As we consider Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, we know that before a child can learn, s/he must first have a sense of safety and security. Knowing this, before I introduce any academic concepts to children and families, I address the basic worries that may be causing anxiety. These are the simple things that can make the difference between feeling safe and secure, and holding a child back from enjoying the potential of the upcoming year.
I use Adobe Spark to create a video introduction which addresses the basic worries and wonderings as we prepare for our year together. In the past, I included a QR code link to this video within my welcome letter that was sent home in the summer mailing. This year, I have included the video on our class website, as well as in our Seesaw portfolios. Children have the opportunity to revisit the video as many times as they would like so that they have the opportunity to develop their understanding of how our classroom works, even before entering on the first day. For children who need time to transition and process new experiences, this format of communicating is extremely valuable. Last year I had one mom share with me that her son watched it everyday, including right before he got on the bus on the first day of school. She said he asked for it one more time that morning, and then took a deep breath and said, "Now, I'm ready!" Embracing technology gives us the opportunity to give this gift to our children in ways that had not been available even a few years ago.
Once children feel safe and secure, we move up in the hierarchy of needs. It is now our job to help them invest in the experience of learning they are about to undertake. This is our opportunity to set the stage for our exciting journey together. It is also an opportunity to model creation that they will experience as part of their learning. This year, I used iMovie to create a movie trailer introducing our Kindergarten. Within this short video, children are able to see their classroom in a different way and develop excitement for the process of learning and playing that they are about to experience. When creating it, I tried to capture the ways in which the traditional Kindergarten experiences of block building, water/sand play, painting, reading, writing, counting, and music are integrated thoughtfully with the new twist of technology tools that will be an important part of our learning as well. Again, this becomes a part of their Seesaw portfolios and is embedded on our class website for easy access.
#innovatingplay starts with clear expectations and an understanding of what young children need to support their understanding of the classroom and the surrounding world. As we prepare to begin the school year, it is with joy in the process of learning, sharing, and growing together.
Heart & Soul,