I have recently been trying to ‘plant myself’ during free play time in my classroom; rather than flitting to various areas of the classroom as children play, I sit down at one spot and try to stay there for the duration of free play time.
I have noticed a few things when I employ this strategy:
- children are drawn to an area when I am sitting in it
- the class, as a whole (even the children not sitting with me directly), seems more calm, engaged, and grounded
- I am better able to support and scaffold each individual child’s learning when I focus on one area of the room, rather than all of the areas at once
- it allows my EA to engage with other children so more students are getting adult interactions
- often, the area I am sitting will end up drawing a large majority of the students in my class (not all of them stay for the duration, but many students will check in for a period of time) –> this leads to more engagement with others
- children are able to spend longer periods of time at one centre when an adult can support and extend their play
- I feel more productive, efficient, and relaxed as a result
In planting myself, I believe this sets the tone for the entire class. When children see me sitting in one spot for an extended period of time, they are encouraged to do the same. This shows children the value of deep engagement in play, rather than short bursts doing 20 different things. This also visually limits the clutter and movement in the classroom when I (and others) am stationary.
I have tried ‘planting myself’ at the following centres with success: puppets, blocks, sensory table, and, today, puzzles! My students have been quite interested in puzzles lately, partially due to the fact that I often offer this activity as a quiet, calm alternative when play gets excessively rowdy and dysregulated. I recently bought these new crepe rubber puzzles to provide something with a bit more difficulty, and children were quite enamored with them. Learning regarding colours, shapes, spatial awareness, problem solving, perseverance, letters and sounds, and vocabulary all took place.
In following with the metaphor, I am finding that ‘planting myself’ is allowing many new seeds to take root and grow in my classroom! I wonder where I will plant myself tomorrow…
Have you ever tried this strategy in your classroom?
What do you notice about your classroom, yourself, and your students when you ‘plant yourself’?
Until next time,