Challenges in Early Childhood Education Settings
What are some current challenges in early childhood education settings (of any kind) that might make play-based learning difficult to implement or maintain? Or maybe what would make it difficult to increase the amount of learning that is play-based? Are the barriers from physical environments, teacher/staff preparation, parents’ wishes, trends in education, policy, or current events (like COVID-19 or social injustice)? That was a bunch of ideas to get you thinking, no need to speak to all of them, you might just focus on one or two.
You can respond from your current or former early childhood setting, or speak to what you think is occurring more broadly.
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-The challenges early childhood education is facing that affects play base learning is the high stake test that are required of our children. Children can no longer be they have to be taught and molded to be prepared to take test starting from VPK. This is the current challenge I had to face, I teach in a school setting that serves children with severe trauma. They enter my VPK with zero in communication skills, comprehension, and a two year old social and emotional development. That is why this year I decided to leave VPK and teach in the three year old classroom because the pressure for students entering kindergarten regardless of their deficiency is greater. I truly believe the pressure that is put on teachers causes great stress and how can we effectively teach under these conditions. As a three year old teacher I feel less stress because I know this moment in time I don’t have the VPK stress that somebody will be entering my room and questioning why the child is not passing the VPK assessments. I can be in the moment in the three year old classroom and enjoy my students while I scaffold their learning through play base.
-I feel that some of the challenges that are affecting play-based learning are all the testing and assessments that are done in the classrooms. Teachers are spending so much time creating lesson plans for children to master skills that sometimes the fun and play is taken out of the learning process. Teachers are so consumed with making sure students are on the developmental scale for their age group, that fun is taking out of activities, and they are becoming more of drills than fun activities that create a learning environment. Also, with teachers having to do so many assessments throughout the year, they are more overwhelmed and tend to be less creative and spontaneous with fun activities for them to learn. I also feel that behavior problems within the classroom can make it challenging for the environment of the classroom to be considered fun for the children and teachers. So much time is often given to behavior problem children with less attention and details provided to the ones not creating problems. Those children are usually left to fend for themselves and just play without any guidance and realistic goals for them to achieve. This can be a challenge because children are often left without a real purpose or plan during their play-time leading to less play-based learning occurring during the day or times spent at child care centers.