Erin Chawla: The Kiducation Learning Curve


We Do Learn The Most Important Lessons In Kindergarten

What Do You Mean No Desks?

For those of you following my journey, you know I was declared surplus to my school this year and was taken out of a job that I was rather attached to.

However, I do believe that change induces growth, so in spite of the stresses of finding a new position (and the school board sure did make it a cumbersome, time-consuming, anxiety-producing process), I kept my positive attitude and looked at it as a chance to become a better teacher.

Towards the end of the school year, I finally received my new posting. Kindergarten!

With the expansion of Full-Day Kindergarten across Ontario, kindergarten teachers are in high demand these days and I now count myself among their ranks.

Excited about my new job, I eagerly enrolled in an intensive summer course dedicated to the kindergarten learner. I'm currently spending a good portion of my days immersed in child-development charts, analyzing classroom designs and making my way through the readings of a gaggle of Early Childhood theorists.  

So far, the most important message in the course is one that many parents already know oh so well: it’s all about the power of play! Open-ended, discovery-based play in which the children need to make-up and navigate the rules is vital to assist a young child develop self-regulation. Our over-scheduled, too-many-toys, too-many-rules, hyper-protective North American society is threatening our children’s free, joy-filled play times. Our kids need time and space to come up with their own ideas. It’s something I’ve been preaching for a while, only now I have more research to back me up.

And, in the spirit of kindergarten and letting the kids make the rules, I watched my two energetic nephews (ages 10 and 7) and some of their neighbourhood gang develop a game the other day. From my vantage point, I could see this game consisted of stuffing two bodies into some sort of miniature hula-hoop about a foot and a half in diameter and challenging the other team, who had also squeezed their two bodies into the same size hoop.  Then the object was for each partnership to run at the other, sumo-style and, presumably, knock the other team down. However, often all four toppled, so I am unclear on the ins and outs of accurate scoring and penalties.

Did I fear broken bones and chipped teeth and making a transatlantic phone call to interrupt brother’s kid-free vacation with his wife? Sure! But dangers are all around and kids need some freedom to test out their theories. If I had curtailed this fabulous exploration, the world may never now the joys of conjoined hula-hoop wrestling!

Now please don’t fret if you are sending your precious four-year-old my way this September. I promise not to allow the student-led play to go that far in the classroom. Safety will be of utmost priority, but letting the students play, explore, invent, and wonder will also top the to-do list. Want your kids to be more successful? I say, give them more time to play!

Kindergarten, here I come — let the games begin! I've already begun to enjoy the journey!

Do you agree that kids today have too many rules? Want to see how laughter is a powerful educational tool? Looking for some playful activities to do with your kids this summer? has got you covered!

Original photo by Woodley Wonder Works on Flickr