Bring recess and play time back to our Kindergartners' schedules!
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This year, our 5 and 6 year old Kindergartners will lose one of their two recesses along with a 30 minute block of free choice time, also their dedicated snack time will be turned into a "working snack". Basically, they'll be getting only 20 minutes of unstructured time a day. Just 20 minutes to play, interact socially, move their bodies, and practice new skills. Research shows how essential unstructured time is for cementing newly taught skills, maintaining focus and attention, improving gross motor skills and sensory integration, and decreasing problem behaviors that take up classroom time. We know that our schools can keep these important blocks of recess and play time in the schedule because schools in neighboring towns have managed to do it and because our schools have done it in past years. Our principals can make sure that the Kindergarten schedule reflects current research and best practices. Help us show our principals how important a balanced day is for our Kindergartners by signing our letter below!
Dear Ms. Galdston, Ms. McGuinness, Ms. Phelan, Mr. LaRoche, Ms. Fitzpatrick, and Ms. Ciarlone,
I am a Watertown parent with a daughter entering Kindergarten this fall. I’m so excited about being part of the public school community and supporting teachers and administrators in the education of our children! I very quickly want to introduce myself and where I’m coming from: I have a Master’s and PhD in Environmental Sciences from UMass-Amherst, where my research focused on access to nature in urban areas (specifically Boston) for underserved communities and especially children. I currently direct the environmental ed program at a local children's museum and specialize in nature-based, child-led play. I’m passionate about programs for children’s development and learning that is research-based and follows best practices.
I and my fellow Watertown parents are writing today because we’re concerned about conflicting messages we’ve been getting about the new Kindergarten schedule, and about the dismissive responses and run around some of us have received when asking questions. We are on board with literacy curriculum like Fundations, as well as the Responsive Classroom curriculum for social-emotional learning, however, there should be a balance in our classrooms and curriculum. Literacy, social-emotional learning, wellness… these are not competing ideas, they all need to be part of the school day. Removing important unstructured time like recess, free choice time, and even the conversational opportunities that arise during a dedicated snack time, throws this balance off.
Research has shown how essential the opportunity for unstructured time and gross motor movement is for cementing newly taught skills, maintaining focus and attention, improving gross motor skills and sensory integration, and decreasing problem behaviors that take up classroom time. Instead of moving the Lowell Kindergarten schedule away from these best practices to align with Hosmer and Cunniff’s schedules, the administration should be aligning the Hosmer and Cunniff schedules to the original Lowell schedule, which more closely followed current research and best practices.
We know that the 2018-2019 schedule can reflect this balance, even with the changing curriculum, as schools in other towns have managed to do so. We request that the Kindergarten schedule across all schools be structured to include a full recess (preferably separated from lunch as the research suggests), a dedicated block of free choice time, and another block that is dedicated to unstructured snack/recess. We further request that these blocks of unstructured time be spaced throughout the day according to best practices to provide the most benefits for attention, focus, gross motor strengthening, and new skill acquisition.
We look forward to your timely reply to our request and we are eager to share the information we’ve put together on this important subject and to be a resource for you now and in the future.
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