A Year in the Life: Ambient Math Wins the Race to the Top!
For one year, 365 days, this blog will address the Common Core Standards from the perspective of creating an alternate, ambient learning environment for math. Ambient is defined as “existing or present on all sides, an all-encompassing atmosphere.” And ambient music is defined as: “Quiet and relaxing with melodies that repeat many times.”
Why ambient? A math teaching style that’s whole and all encompassing, with themes that repeat many times through the years, is most likely to be effective and successful. Today’s blog will focus on an overview of the Common Core Standards, their ambient counterparts, and where each activity may be placed in the structure of a typical (ambient) Kindergarten day.
The Waldorf Kindergarten day will be used as a template, dividing it into four segments: Free Play, Circle Time, Outside, and Snack/Story. Though the Waldorf model will be used for structuring the day, the suggested content is somewhat eclectic, leaning mostly toward a Montessori approach.
In the Waldorf Kindergarten, a strong advocacy for free play mixed with a generous helping of the arts, (literature, music, dance, movement, handcrafts, painting, sculpting) pairs with a steadfast avoidance of academics. This is wise, sound, and healthy for the young child till age 7. But I am holding here that in the Kindergarten it is entirely possible to build foundations with pure play, for later learning.
As I understand the Montessori approach, learning materials that are imaginative, well-made, and creatively engaging are supplied in an open space, so Kindergartners may freely “play” with them without coercion, coaxing, or testing. This is the aspect of Montessori that I feel is a good mix with a Waldorf arts-rich and warm environment.
In analyzing and categorizing the standards and their ambient counterparts, explored in this blog from Days 3-19, I found that most fit into the Free Play segment, while others blend with Circle Time and Outside, and a few with Snack/Story. Over the next few blogs, I will reference this blog’s Day number, along with the relevant standard and its activity, as well as suggestions for fitting it all together.
As stated earlier, my hope is that Ambient Math will be helpful for you who have an eye for the value of play over academics and testing, and who are homeschooling Kindergartners (with or without a Waldorf approach). And for those whose children are in public or private school, who may choose to use this content as a nurturing, supportive supplement.
To the latter, may I support you in strong advocacy for your children! So many parents are dismayed by the negative effects of early academics and testing. I see daily evidence of this in the news and on my Facebook page. Opting out of testing is gaining momentum everywhere. I read the other day about a Mom with a son in Kindergarten who is acting as a self-styled “Play Warrior” in reaction to her son’s confusion and unhappiness with stressful, repeated testing at school.
Please remember that knowledge ensues in an environment dedicated to imaginative, creative knowing, where student and teacher alike surrender to the ensuing of that knowledge as a worthy goal. More Kindergarten tomorrow!