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From the Director:
Over these last ten years or so since I have been a Pre-School Director I often find myself explaining to parents why it is more important to encourage learning through play in our young children, and less important to find a pre-school classroom that has a more academic focus. Although those classrooms do exist, it is refreshing to see that so many parents have now joined the army of those of us who know that play is the necessary building block to learning. Play is the most important work of childhood!
As we have talked about many times before, children develop at their own rate. This is why children at the same age can be at different place during their development. All children progress through the stages of development sequentially, no child skips any stage, but how quickly they move through each stage is specific to each child individually. This is one of the attributes that make children different from one another and special for being who they are. The developmental appropriateness of our program relies in our belief of this process; and also in our belief that young children learn best when they are learning through play.
Because so many people focus so much on academics and try to start children much too early in structured learning, children no longer have the opportunity to play as often as they should. Many people have forgotten that play is the fundamental step towards learning and school readiness.
Like crawling and walking, children learn many things when they are ready. When learning is fun children learn to love learning. When children are pushed to do things before they are ready they become anxious and frustrated; perhaps even perceiving learning to be somewhat more of a chore then something to get excited about. Leaning should be fun for a child, something they enjoy. We all want our children to love learning and to become excited about the things they are learning about.
Play is the way young children learn about the world they live in. When children engage in open ended play they are in-charge. The play is unstructured, self-paced and self-directed. They begin a journey or an experiment and see where it takes them. This journey is the learning process.
When children are playing, they are working on many skills at one time. They are developing the basic skills they need to be able to read, write and do math later in life, and they are learning about these things in a way that is fun and natural for them.
In addition to learning academic skills children also strengthen their social/emotional development. When they are in the dramatic play area, for example, they are learning how to take charge, cooperate and plan. They assign roles, decide how to carry out the play and can continue for hours building on their thoughts and ideas.
An amazing amount of leaning happens when we take our children outside. Here they can observe nature ask questions, and examine cause and effect. These are all great ways to encourage your children to wonder about things. It's a great opportunity for us to facilitate discovery by encouraging our children to ask questions and to then encourage them to push the limits and wonder even further about the observations they are making. Ask your children open ended questions such as: I wonder what would happen if... Maybe even suggest a visit to the library to do research. Here is where your journey begins and here is where your children begin to love the leaning process and where they will become lifelong learners.
Wherever your journey leads you, spend time playing and learning with your child. You will love it.
799 Washington Road, Mt. Lebanon, PA 15228, 412.770.8095