Intentional Teaching made Easy

So many times in our child development classes, we are taught to let the children explore on their own. We want them to have "uninterupted play" for extended periods of time. "Let the children do what they will do with the materials, we are there to facilitate, not dictate, what they do."

However, we have swung a little too far in this. The new term that is coming up is "Intentional Teaching". What we are looking for in intentional teaching is children exploring with a purpose. It's as simple as that...kind of.

How do you allow the children the freedom to explore materials and still make their play purposeful? How do you teach the children while letting them explore freely? Is that even possibly?

Well, those are exactly the questions I have been asking myself and answering for our teachers lately. I decided that it was time to teach the teachers how to teach, providing an enriched preschool experience while giving the children the freedom to explore on their own.

As many of you know, I am a program trainer. My job is to provide trainings and coaching experiences with the teachers in our agency. Right now, we have 29 classrooms (with that number hopefully growing soon). I have to very carefully plan my schedule so that I can give each classroom the attention they need.

The month of October, I decided to complete an activity during FREE CHOICE time in each of the classrooms. Every classroom should have a morning and an afternoon free choice time. This made scheduling easy because I could schedule two classrooms a day.

I made it very clear to the Superviors and the Teachers that my purpose in being there was NOT to do an activity for the childre, but to implement and activity for the teachers to see HOW to get intentional teaching in the classroom during free choice time.

The thing about free choice time that many people forget is that it is a time for the children to CHOOSE which activities in which they will participate. It doesn't mean that there are no teacher directed activities. If you are clever and have observed your children carefully, you will plan activities that will intrigue certain children and you wan't even have to try and get them over, they will just come out of pure interest.

It's also very important that teachers remember that Intentional Teaching does NOT take place just at the tables. Yes, on occasions, they will. Playing a game of memory or candy land often does take place at a table. However, if you do not bring Intentional Teaching to the block area, you are missing a large group of children who will never have their play stimulated and, therefore, will remain stagnant and not grow and branch out.

We will be looking at different ways to get in these intentional teaching moments in the classroom over the next few days. The most important thing to remember at Intentional Teaching is that you are ADDING to their play and interest while allowing them to continue in their play.

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