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Minds at Play

How playtime can be a valuable learning tool in the early years of a child’s development.

Minds at Play

Choosing the right preschool is the first step in a lifetime of learning. Finding a program that offers quality educational services while providing a safe and nurturing environment for your child can be difficult. As the director of an early childhood education program, I ask educators to emphasize the value of play, calling it “Play with a Purpose.”

Imagine a world without play for a child. From building with blocks to constructing a 3-D tree, children are learning foundational skills that are necessary as they transition to elementary school and beyond through hands-on, play-based activities. Play is often not considered learning, but we forget to acknowledge the value that play has on a child’s development. As they play, children accept and assign roles, which gives them an opportunity to explore as they pretend to be someone or something different.

Finding age-appropriate activities is key to a child’s success in learning. Writing in a journal and copying letters is not best practice for children to be successful when it comes to learning the important foundational skills during their early years of development. There are many prerequisites for a child to learn before reading and writing. There are studies that have proven the lasting effects of play-based, hands-on and open-ended activities.

Early childhood educators take play to the next level by filling each child’s day with exploration and investigation through hands-on activities. When using a hands-on learning approach, educators are able to meet each child’s individual needs.

Children learn in many different ways. Some children learn kinesthetically through hands on, auditory, visual (spatial), linguistic, mathematical, interpersonal and intrapersonal methods. When planning daily activities, educators take all of these different domains of learning into consideration.

For example, a teacher may use eyedroppers when mixing colors. Not only does this promote fine motor skills but mixing colors is an activity that focuses on science; making predictions and charting dictations about the outcomes of those colors focuses on language, vocabulary and communication skills; and asking the children to use their words throughout is working on self-regulation skills. The activity can be taken to the next level by sorting each color, which would be considered mathematics.

This is the learning approach we take with early childhood education. We find out what the children want to learn in each unit so their inquisitive minds can spark with creativity.

Early childhood education curriculum has enrichments built into each child’s day, allowing him or her to extend learning through open-ended group projects. The classrooms are carefully designed, taking into consideration a safe and healthy learning environment. During the day-to-day activities, children are playing with a state of grace, innocence, wonder and creativity.

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