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Full Day Kindergarten: It’s About Time February, 21, 2012. Colleen Politano. Everything we talk about today is with the understanding that you are already doing wonderful things to support your learners!. What’s in the FDK document? A QUICK Overview

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Full Day Kindergarten:

It’s About Time

February, 21, 2012

Colleen Politano


Everything we talk about today is with the understanding that you are already doing wonderful things to support your learners!


What’s in the FDK document?

A QUICK Overview

“Is this good use of children’s time?”

David Booth

How can we use this gift of time

to help ALL children do their best learning?

What can we let go of?

What do we want to do ‘more of more often’?


Purpose: to show you that the FDK document gives

the support we need to do our best for our children

Section 1: The Purpose of Full Day Kindergarten

Provides the rationale for play based, developmentally appropriate classrooms.


Section 2: Characteristics of Kindergarten Children

  • Affirms what we know about young children and
  • the goals of the Primary Program.
  • Kindergarten children learn with their whole bodies, their minds, and their hearts.
  • play based, exploration and inquiry, with hands-on activities that engage all their senses
  • developmentally and culturally appropriate

Section 3: Kindergarten Children’s Learning

  • Establishes play and inquiry as the medium for learning in each of the goal areas.
  • Establishes assessment as an ongoing, in context process.
  • Children need:
  • child initiated play and teacher initiated play.
  • indoor and outdoor play (more than recess)
  • playful group learning times beyond center and project time
  • Assessing Children’s Learning and Development
  • Full day gives us time to observe, document and provide supportive feedback.
  • “Research findings do not support delaying children’s entry to school. By the end of the primary grades, children whose entry was delayed do not outperform children who began on time.”
  • “Ready Schools do all that is necessary to assure the success of every child.

Section 4: Planning Kindergarten Environments

Sets the practical expectations for daily practice.

Routines, and Schedules

Classroom Environment

Classroom Organization

Flexible Learning Environment

Learning Centers


Section 5: Kindergarten, Families, and Community

Establishes the need for reciprocal relationships

with families and the community.

Developing Relationships with Families

A Seamless Day — Learning and Care Transitions

Family to School Communication and Reporting




Self regulation

Documenting Learning


7 Big Ideas

  • Brains:
  • require basic survival needs to be met so learning can occur.
  • come ‘on line’ as the child matures.
  • develop in response to experiences.
  • develop in response to nurturing.
  • need physical activity and movement for optimum learning.
  • are driven by emotion.
  • reorganize themselves throughout our lives.

7 Big Ideas

  • Brains:
  • require basic survival needs to be met so learning can occur.
  • (food, water, sleep, safety)
  • come ‘on line’ as the child matures.
  • (maturity develops from the bottom up)
  • (get information from the senses)*
  • *This is why we learn better when we get information is a variety of ways and remember information and processes better when we process in a variety of ways like visuals, singing, dramatizing, drawing...

7 Big Ideas

  • Brains:
  • develop in response to experiences.
  • (‘hands on minds on,’ natural materials,
  • vocabulary, language, modeling, PLAY)
  • develop in response to nurturing.
  • (basic care taking, touch, affection, emotional support, encouragement)

7 Big Ideas

  • Brains:
  • need physical activity and movement for optimum learning.
  • (physical activity and movement build better brains)***
  • *The brain does not store energy. We need to move to get fresh, oxygenated, glucose rich blood to the brain.
  • *When we move we ‘wake up’ the reticular activating system (RAS) which is our ‘attention gate.’ Without attention there is no learning or memory.
  • *We can build these in! E.g. Elbow spelling

7 Big Ideas

  • Brains:
  • are driven by emotion.
  • (emotions can hijack our brain-fight, flight, freeze, float)
  • reorganize themselves throughout our lives.
  • (we form new connections between brain cells)

A 3-year-olds brain is 75% of adults size brain and twice as active as an adult's brain.

Early experience and interaction with the environment are most critical

in a child's brain development.

4 years 

Brain activity reaches a peak,

resulting in a large need for energy. 

5-6 years 

The brain is now 90% of its adult weight.

Ages 3-6 are the prime learning times.

Talking to young children establishes foundations for learning language

during early critical periods when learning is easiest for a child.


The nervous system takes in information from the senses.In the years birth to 12 the brain is maturing and it develops more rapidly between birth and age 5 later than during any other period. 






What’s on your ‘brain?’


Play, Oh Wonderful Play

Children need to experience

child initiated play


teacher initiated play.

We can be

“guides on the side,’

eyes and ears open for opportunities


extend play for learning.


Recess and Lunch Possibilities Outdoors


Snack before they go outside.

Some schools have children play first then eat later.

Ideally, increased paid supervision.

Try gradual ‘support to independence.’ buddy partners

Take children out before recess so they can have a ‘play through.’

Include kindergarten children with the other students

Provide a home base so they know where to go if they need help.

bright colored tablecloths at the $ store = ‘home base.’


The Shifting Kindergarten Curriculum

Egertson, Harriet A.

The forces which have led to the development of

skill-based programs are reactive and

largely ignore the early childhood research base.

Advocates of developmental kindergarten programs

should emphasize the effectiveness of an active learning setting for advancing children's growth and development.

Brain research has shown that we need the whole picture

in order to make sense of the parts.

Skills must be learned in a meaningful context.



What about the folks who ask,

“Will it be an academic program?”

It is not a question of academics.

It is about methodology.

Do we want learning to be short term or long lasting?



  • Play generates movement
  • increased blood flow
  • increased endorphin levels
  • increased calcium levels in the blood enhances dopamine synthesis making the brain sharper for cognitive problem solving and working memory.
  • stimulates reticular activating system-opens the ‘attention gate’
  • promotes production of BDNF-brain derived neorotrophic factor - promotes cell growth


age + 2 minutes



  • Play provides a meaningful context for language:
  • talk activates the temporal mandibular joint-“talk cements understanding”
  • children use language to communicate and negotiate-building neural connections that are used beyond the play context
  • when we are problem solving cognitively, ‘dancing new dances’ we build brain cells.
  • children engage in meaningful use of vocabulary which is used throughout life.

Social Interaction

  • Play creates genuine, frequent opportunities
  • play provides a safe context to develop social skills exploration provides opportunities to create the neural pathways needed for cooperation
  • children are bright and energetic because the modulatory neurotransmitters which contribute to a sense of well being, dopamine-makes us feel positive, nor-adrenalin promotes alertness, acetylcholine promotes engagement, brightness.
  • Play is key to helping children develop self regulation.


  • Play generates creativity and problem solving
  • choice raises serotonin levels-serotonin produces positive emotional states and helps to set long term memory.
  • the multiple ways children represent during play create opportunities to build new brain pathways and development of spatial sense. Imaginary play develops the pathways of creativity.
  • children at play are absorbed in the activity - attention regulates plasticity and drives positive brain change. Attention makes some ideas ‘more famous’ in your brain. Greater conscious heightens neuronal activity. The brain pays attention to what is important for survival or novel and intriguing. Engagement is key to learning.
  • play gives the necessary time for processing!
  • “I can have my learners’ attention or they can be making meaning-learning requires processing time!” Eric Jensen
  • reflection “Play, Debrief, Replay” (Selma Wasserman) builds the neural pathways used in understanding consequences-children’s frontal lobes are still maturing up to age 11.


  • Play provides enjoyment
  • endorphins produced during play result in spill over of positive attitude toward school
  • play and laughter, ‘neurotonics’ for relief of stress
  • - glial cells are the ‘housekeepers’ of the brain
  • - when we feel good they operate at optimum conditions to deliver nutrients and remove waste from the brain.

Play is the work of children.

Make play work for children!

  • Play needs to be more than center time!
  • we need to fit it into everything we do.
  • through literacy, science, social studies, math, the arts,
  • physical activity and anything else we want kids to learn!

Let’s agree to never use the words

just and play



We need to help others get beyond the old idea of

time for work and time for play

and accept that learning in a playful way is the most effective way to academic success!

We need to figure out how we can integrate play

into all aspects of our curriculum.

“Play is not what we do, but how we do it.”

Stephen Nachmanovitch


Moving toward a play filled curriculum

Increase sensory input: the more ways our brain gets information the greater chance that more learners will be successful.

Our brains made sense of the world through actions and sight long before we had language.

We need to ask ourselves-what else can I do beyond “teaching by telling”-how can I involve my students?


Moving toward a play filled curriculum

  • Increase sensory output: the more ways we offer children to present information the greater chance all kids have to express their ideas, learning and recall. More people get to be smart!
  • introducing multiple ways to represent
  • give students opportunities to build
  • new brain pathways.

Worksheets don’t grow dendrites.


You will continue

to do great things

for and with your K’s.