A Chicago Play-In
Here's a brilliant tactic by More Than a Score Chicago to highlight the importance of play and to warn parents about the abuse of standardized tests. This is an idea that should spread across the country.
For Immediate Release *** April 17, 2013
Contact: Kirsten Roberts: 312-316-2636
Michelle Gunderson: 773-699-5672
Julie Woestehoff: 773-715-3989 (day of) or 773-538-1135
Chicago, IL: Today, dozens of parents, children and educators attended a"Play-In" organized by More Than a Score to highlight their concern that testing has taken over the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) classrooms of our youngest children, pushing play-based learning out.
The group set up play areas at CPS headquarters to demonstrate the power ofplay. Adults played side-by-side with children using blocks, bubbles,fingerpaints, musical instruments, trucks, dolls, Play-dough, crayons and paper, and puzzles.
More Than a Score is concerned that the youngest learners in Chicago Public Schools are facing multiple standardized tests--as many as 14 in some kindergarten classroom--inappropriate amounts of seatwork and homework, and a lack of opportunities for play, exploration, and creativity. The combination of the longer school day, an overly academic
curriculum for the youngest learners, and high-stakes testing is turning our children's first learning experiences into an ordeal. Opportunities for true free play are becoming more and more rare in Chicago Public Schools.
Cassie Cresswell, parent of a CPS 1st grader at Goethe and a two-year-old potential CPS preschooler, said, "Last year, when our school
was planning for the longer day, I read a report that a full-day, six-hour kindergarten class should probably have at least three daily
play periods of an hour or longer, with at least one being outdoors. The days of CPS kindergartners are now seven hours long, and they typically only have 20 minutes to play each day."
Cassie added, "The lack of play is only made worse by the narrow academic focus. There's an overemphasis on reading and math skills and
little else starting very rigorously in kindergarten and even Pre-K. This year, my daughter's class will have seven standardized tests administered to them in total 20 times during this school year. It is simply insanity."
Kirstin Roberts, a pre-K teacher at Belmont Cragin Early Childhood Center as well as the parent of a CPS preschool student, says, "I agree with the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child, as well as leading early childhood experts around the world, that play is a fundamental right of children. Play is how young children explore their world, build relationships, experiment with their environment, test theories, and construct knowledge. In short, play is how young children
learn and grow. But the right to play in our early childhood classrooms is under threat in the Chicago Public Schools."
Kirstin warned, "Kindergarten classrooms are losing their block sets and finger paints, to make room for more and more direct instruction of developmentally inappropriate subject matter, more seat-work, and more testing and more test prep. We call on CPS to listen to the experts of early childhood and return play to our classrooms, end standardized testing for our youngest learners, and allow the joy of teaching and learning back into our schools."
According to Concordia University Associate Professor Isabel Nunez, a member of Chicagoland Researchers and Educators for Transformative
Education (CReATE), "One of the most destructive consequences of having non-educators running our districts and schools is that we have forgotten the fundamental principles of human development. Any developmental psychologist will tell you that young children learn through play. There is no debate on this within the discipline. Maria
Montessori, Johann Pestalozzi and Friedrich Froebel were scientists. Their vision for education is based on research, not a touchy-feely desire to let the children play just because they enjoy it. A play-based
curriculum for early childhood classrooms is developmentally appropriate, because play is the way children learn."
More Than a Score members also passed petitions against the misuse and overuse of testing in CPS at the event and later in the day during
report card pick up at local CPS schools.
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