You've heard it many times; Children learn through play. But what does that really mean? It doesn't look like learning, so sometimes parents worry because we are not "teaching" the children the skills they need to be ready for school.
Parents want what's best for their kids. They want us to teach their children their ABCs, numbers and colors and how to read. I would argue though, that our role is actually not to teach children, but to facilitate and support the learning that comes naturally when we provide them with safe and loving, developmentally appropriate environments where they were free to play, explore and experiment.
We instinctively know this, but because many policy makers have not studied or worked with children, they push "school readiness" in strictly academic terms, insisting that we drill young children on their ABCs and teach them to sit still in a desk all day. We often begin to doubt what we know to be true and have a hard time articulating to parents what their children are learning in our programs while they are building with blocks, measuring sand and water, or playing dress-up.
“When children play with blocks, they are working on problem solving and early math concepts. As they play, explore and experiment with blocks, children learn about the qualities of the materials. They are learning about size, shape, weight, texture, and color. As their play progresses, and children begin to build with blocks, they begin to learn about length, height, volume and physical space.”
Family Child Care Academy | Block Play
“Don’t assume that parents are connecting outdoor and gross motor play to writing skills. You have to help them make that connection.” Family Child Care Academy | Early Literacy – Pre-Writing Skills
“Art is expression. Through art, children are able to express their joy, fear, anger, curiosity or sadness. Art can also be a powerful form of therapy. Art is about the senses – all 7 of them.” Family Child Care Academy | Art
“Fine motor skills are necessary for grasping a pencil, paint brush or crayon. But children also use their fine motor skills to eat, dress themselves, open things, turn things on, play games, play sports, play instruments… Family Child Care Academy | Fine Motor Skills
“Children can work on basic math concepts with patterns in music and learn about the world around them through music and songs.” Family Child Care Academy | Music and Movement
“When children pretend to be someone (or something) different, they are in control and get to decide the outcome of the situation they are acting out. Role playing helps them to understand what is going on in their world, and they develop skills that help them to deal with what is happening in their lives now, and going forward.” Family Child Care Academy |Dramatic Play
“There is no better science lab than the back yard. Outdoors, children interact with nature, get firsthand experience with the weather and seasons and can observe colors, textures, shapes and patterns that occur in nature. As children play outdoors, they ask questions, make hypothesis about what will happen, and then test their hypothesis.” Family Child Care Academy | Outdoor Play