In an early childhood program, children are exposed to multiple experiences and activities throughout the day. Some people may think that children are just playing and the teachers are simply glorified babysitters tending to their children. This is far from the truth in a quality childcare center! Over the next couple of months, we are going to highlight the importance of your child’s activities at school and what you can do, at home, to support their learning.
Children learn multiple skills through group and individual play. Toys and games include puzzles, various blocks, small construction materials such as LEGO pieces, board games, and collections of objects that act as fine motor manipulatives (including shells, mini erasers, and buttons).
In the classroom, children learn to cooperate with one another by sharing, taking turns, and problem-solving. They develop confidence while completing puzzles, sorting small objects, and building towers. Children practice eye-hand coordination and fine motor control while lacing cards or stringing beads. Children develop their language skills while talking about what they are doing. Math skills develop as children sort and count various materials.
Parents are their child’s first teacher. A quality program knows that parents and teachers must work together to support the child’s learning. Cooperation promotes children’s school readiness after leaving early childcare programs. Parents play an important role by selecting toys and games that are safe, interesting, and age-appropriate. More importantly, research shows that the most creative children are those who have had adults involved in their playtime.
Here are a few ways that you can be involved in your child’s play:
- Observe: Watch as your child plays and notice his or her abilities and interests.
- Play: Follow your child’s lead and join in his/her play.
- Imagine: Keep in mind that there is more than one way to play with a toy.
- Enjoy: This isn’t a time to drill your child or test what he/she knows. Just have fun being together!
Excellent toys do not have to be expensive. You might collect various small objects such as buttons, seashells, rocks, and plastic bottle tops. Make suggestions such as, “Put all of the buttons that are the same color in a pile,” or “Group all of the beads that are the same size.” Encourage your child to tell you about the design/pattern he/she is making or to explain why certain objects belong together.
Playing with toys and games at home promotes your child’s development in many ways. As teachers, we welcome you into your child’s classroom. Play with your child in our toys and games areas and discover how much he/she is learning!