A recent op-ed in The New York Times creates a false opposition between play and the Common Core. In my experience as a kindergarten teacher, the Common Core doesn’t hinder children’s creativity or discourage play.
In a school where Common Core standards are embraced, students are not being forced to memorize information, practice rote skills or master information before they are able.
This year, my students have been given one math problem each day where they are asked to think about the action that is happening and create a representation of this with manipulatives—tangible, toy-like objects that students play with to help them understand mathematical concepts.
Learning in this open-ended, student-driven way has pushed them beyond what many people would think they are capable of. As we approach the end of the school year, my students have learned to write in complete sentences without direct instruction or copying, solve division math problems by thinking about what would be fair in real life, and discuss themes and make inferences after hearing books read aloud.
Although my classroom is not play-based, students play and socialize with their peers daily in recess, chess class and blocks time. My kindergarten students are engaged in lessons that support their critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and create a sense of awareness of the world around them.
Common Core increases my students’ love of learning and has helped them reach their maximum potential in order to best prepare them for their future.