barbarshop kids

These kindergarteners at City Neighbors Hamilton were playing “barbershop” when I stopped by the other day.  They had already moved a few chairs around and set up the things they thought they’d need, and were having a great time together.  In the fine tradition of the back room barbershops of down south, they were sharing music, telling stories and practicing a range of roles and social interactions.

At City Neighbors we take a stand for Play as essential to teaching and learning.  Play strengthens creativity, imagination and self-confidence.  Through Play, children learn to collaborate, share, express themselves, and increase their vocabulary and attention span.  (Check out this great article by David Kohn for more on Play!)  Play gives young children a chance to practice the different grown-up scripts that they want to understand and master, like Barbershop.  Most importantly, through Play, students begin a relationship to learning that is driven internally– not externally.

This is one of the many reasons City Neighbors Teachers led a push-back to the standardized PARCC testing in schools this year.  At City Neighbors, we create long, uninterrupted times for students to develop scripts.  We use assessment that are ongoing and authentic, and find PARCC testing results simply not useful to inform our instruction.  In these ways and more, PARCC testing is a waste of everyone’s time.

Your voice can make a difference.  Join us in this effort.  To find out about the movement to end PARCC testing in Maryland, visit

In the meantime, the good times are still rolling at City Neighbors Hamilton Kindergarten!  Be sure to stop by the Barbershop and listen to some fine quick pickin’, hear some great storytelling or pretend to get your haircut.

This is real learning.  This is not a test.