Spotlight on the Blue Room
Kathleen Blass, Lead Teacher, and Susan Spotts, Assistant Teacher are a true team in the Kindergarten class. They answered these questions together to give an inside look at the Blue Room approach to learning.
What is your favorite part of being a teacher at Playschool?
It may sound funny but I think our favorite part is ‘playing’ with the children. Watching them interact and play and facilitating their learning is fun, but our most favorite part is rolling down a snowy hill right alongside them, building block towers with them, and climbing up the rocks behind the stage in the woods just to slide down the mudslide.
How is the kindergarten experience at Playschool different than public or other schools?
Playschool is an active learning school where the majority of learning takes place through child directed, open ended play. While we teachers set up playscapes, learning experiences, and challenges for the children in the Blue Room, the real method of learning is inquiry and self discovery based. This is quite different from other schools where students learn through direct teacher-led instruction, workbook pages, textbooks, and the like.
How do you prepare Playschool kids for the transition to a more traditional classroom?
We do practice basic ‘school skills’ that will help the children prepare for their next environment. For one thing, we insist that the children enter the yard by themselves, unaccompanied by a parent, so that they can practice responsibly entering the learning space, putting their things away and following the morning routine. In addition, we have more teacher directed learning experiences and more writing. In the last few weeks we prepare for our science fair about the animals of Pennsylvania. The tasks for this event require that the children master new vocabulary, copy material written on the board, read books about their chosen animal, and write notes in a science journal. While this isn’t exactly what is done in other schools, it is meant for them to become accustomed to some of the methods of learning that might be used in their new environments.
What advantages do Playschool graduates have?
Playschool grads are confident, competent FRIENDS. They understand what it means to be a friend, how to make friends, what to do when you accidentally hurt a friend and the like. A child psychologist who observed Playschoolers in a nearby first grade classroom noted that the kids were the first to organize and start a pick-up game at recess and also to notice a child being left out and invite them to play. The social emotional growth and learning at Playschool is far and above anything I have seen at other preschools or kindergartens.
What is the biggest takeaway you hope your students take away from their time in the Blue Room?
We hope that the children remember that learning can be fun and should include PLAY at any age.