Our class is at 28 now....obviously as the class gets bigger you would normally notice a real change in dynamics and perhaps behaviour. often as the class gets bigger it becomes a little more about management....as in a typical class you try to keep the structure and routine of your 'timetable' class. Often in a typically run new entrant room you begin to hear 'I can't' you begin to see pockets of children that are really struggling to 'manage' themselves....particularly on the mat.
This simply is not the case in a play -based room. While the numbers have got bigger, really there is little change to management. The dynamics do start to change as different personalities come in but children are better able to negotiate and get on with their peers.
Another concern that is often expressed by others is that while in a play-based class is that those that need 'extending' or are more school ready than their peers wont get what they need 'academically.' This is not the case, in fact the opposite is true. These children push themselves in a play-based class as far as they want and need to go. We notice these children spend a lot of time writing, creating patterns etc and during teacher directed time they notice so much.
I have found that during teacher directed sessions that since I started responding with "great noticing" to children's statements, they are more inclined to 'notice.' Seems so simple and is just a basic tweak, but it has made them more inclined to talk about things they have noticed.
I have been blown away by the different types of play as well. We use our outside space as much as possible and at times there will be bikes, scooters flying around while others are playing with balls and swords. It is amazing the way they negotiate space without any intervention by us.
Another thing we have noticed is the risk taking that goes on during the play. It is incredible to watch children take risks, but only to what they know about their ability. They don't push themselves beyond what they are able to do. We have a brilliant playground, which some children have started to display their jumping skills on, while some know they are capable of doing this without harm, others will modify what they are doing, just so it is still within their comfort zone. It has been amazing to watch.
Number Agents has also kicked off well. I had to modify my plans this week as what I had planned was simply too hard and just a little beyond what they were ready for. Keeping it basic and aiming for quality over quantity is the key and that is what I love about being able to plan day to day, moment to moment. We continued to battle the Wacky Witch of Change Unknown this week, however this concept is so difficult there needed to be a lot of scaffolding going on. What I realised was children need to develop further their concept of a whole group, then be able to break this set into two to find the partners. This understanding is crucial and a lot of reinforcement needs to go on over time. While we are meeting the Doubling Dinosaur next week, I will continue work on making and breaking sets.
Below are a selection of photos of our week. I deliberately added one baby and two swords to our play this week. Two swords knowing that a lot of negotiating and sharing would need to go on...this was brilliant! One baby because I knew our girls would love this addition, but that they would have to work out ways of playing together and sharing.
Using the mirror to make patterns, this is hard to see but she had made a garden.
A lovely picnic.
Visit day, it is amazing to witness how smoothly these go now.
Boys challenging the gender stereotype. They spent a long time with these dolls.
Mix and match...so much play going on here.
Working on hs drawing skills. This boy could barely scribble when he started.
One of our very ready children. Has started to add detail to her stories and writes independently with a thirst for words.
Great little costumes $6 at Kmart.
Swords and bikes :)
Writing about the play in our journals.