Prekindergarten expansion in New York City focuses on guided play

Earlier this month, over 50,000 public school children in New York embarked on their formal education as the city began expansion of its pre-K program.

The goal of the early-education initiative is to decrease the achievement gap between those growing up in Brooklyn, and those in the world of West End Avenue.

Under Carmen Farina, the schools chancellor, more underprivileged children will theoretically be taught the in the same ways the city’s affluent children are: according to the fundamentals of immersive, play-based, and often self-directed learning.

Nearly, if not all, private preschools in New York City align itself with the philosophies of Reggio Emilia, an education model that gained prominence in the 1990s. His belief was that children need some control over the course of their learning and the ability to express their various languages. Art, music and imaginative play take on substantial roles.

The new prekindergarten classrooms will have different areas devoted to diverse kinds of play. Certain subjects will be the focus for one to three weeks, and dramatic play will be incorporated.

The city’s educators plan to promote an environment of exciting and digressive learning with the intent to reduce the enormous word deficits many children come to school with.

Over 4,000 teachers received training for the education expansion over the course of three days. The Education Department plans to continue coaching the teachers and offering professional development as the year proceeds.

The type of classrooms New York City administration is aiming to build are exactly what the city needs. The incorporation of and focus on guided play in the prekindergarten classrooms will create an environment that encourages learning. This form of teaching, especially in combination with parental involvement, can help students reach Kindergarten readiness and take on elementary school with their best foot forward.

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