Archives for posts with tag: Play

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.

2385_1106449862022_3416_n-1There are many days when I am giving a tour of City Neighbors where I get to see our students in classrooms, and hallways, in the lunchroom, or out on the playground.  I always notice what they are doing, what their hands are working on, what their minds are engaged in, what the quality of the work is that they are creating together.  But the best part is the relationships.  I love when there is clear evidence of friendship, compassion, respect, and joy.  When we are young our friendships are where we learn so much about ourselves.  Our friendships are where we get to try out who we are going to be as individuals in the world – separate from our families.   What a gift it is, to have the time, when you are young, to play together.

Lise Markl (top left corner of picture) was my friend in Willow School (that’s me in the bottom right corner) K -5th.  In those days we would play after school at my house, listening to Elvis Presley records (and acting out the songs), or we would sing in the school arts festival, “This Land is Your Land.”  We did many projects together in school, and sometimes we would fight – we had time to make mistakes, make up, and start all over again.

Lise has passed away now, and all I can feel is thankful that I was so lucky.  To have Lise as a friend was one of the great gifts of my childhood.  That friendship makes me see the kids in our schools as people who have a right to play, a right to have time to know each other, and to make mistakes, and music, and to build strong relationships.  I want to say goodbye to Lise Markl, and thank her for being my friend,  who touched my heart when I was a little girl.

As grownups, we can make sure that our schools value friendships, and play, and mistakes, and the time it takes to have a friend like Lise.


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