Why We Play
The curriculum and programming at Kids'R'cool2 Preschool is not just about playing with toys all day. There is a lot more to it that meets the eye as it is a direct endeavor of starting a life long path of learning, and having fun along the way! In fact, Kids'R'cool2 Day Preschool's curriculum is carefully developed from my own training in ECE and other childcare courses. My program follows many of the same curriculum standards and guidelines advocated by leading child care organizations and educational programs.
What follows is a description of current theory and research, and then a brief (certainly not complete) outline of daily educational activities and how they meet academic objectives. Unlike older children, younger children are unable to learn through abstract or passive methods. Young children learn best by direct hands-on experiences. The need to actively explore and manipulate materials and toys; discovering answers, properties, relationships, skills and concepts for themselves is vital to early learning. A teaching environment experience needs to be concretely relevant to a child's personal knowledge and maturity level. Often this is referred to as age appropriate or developmentally appropriate curriculum which is an approach that meets educational goals based on research on how young children learn best. Some researchers and policy makers tell us, "Play is the work of childhood".
It is a child's very personal way of interacting with their world and learning to master the possibilities in it. Children who do not have reasonably good Gross Motor Skills will often struggle with the Fine Motor Skills which are needed for formal school work in the classroom. Fine motor skills are developed by Manipulating activities (playdoh, threading beads, lacing, cutting with scissors, and fingerplays), Sensory activities (fingerpainting, gluing, messy art, picking up pegs or rice), and Stability activities (crab walking, wheelbarrow walking, playground, blackboard/easel, diagonal and horizontal circles and lines using both hands).
It looks like play but it meets an academic goal:
- Exercise - Gross motor skills (co-ordination of major muscle groups, body awareness for improved posture and control, balance to maintain equilibrium), Laterality (awareness of the left and right side of body), Crossing of the midline, Spatial Orientation (awareness of the body in space and in relation to other objects or people).
- Blocks/Duplo Lego building - Mathematical goals (spatial concepts, problem solving, balance and weights, co-operation)
- Stringing shoelaces/large and small beads - Mathematical goals (correspondence counting, patterns, sequencing); Literacy goals (visual motor co-ordination, left to right concepts)
- Books/Fingerplays/Rhymes - Literacy goals (auditory discrimination, phonetic skills, auditory memory, concept comprehension, visual motor co-ordination, vocabulary development)
- Concentration games - Literacy goals (visual discrimination, symbolic decoding, visual memory, concept development); Mathematical goals (matching and classification)
- Drawing/Painting - Literacy goals (symbolic representation, visual memory, visual motor co-ordination, creative expression)
With these skills developed, the following will happen:
Hand/Eye co-ordination - The ability to execute activities with the hands, guided by the eyes requiring accuracy in placement, direction and spatial awareness.
Ocular motor control - The ability of the eyes to follow and focus on an object in the field of vision required.
Manual dexterity - The ability to accurately manipulate the hands and fingers for neat handwriting, drawing, typing skills, etc.
Foot - Eye co-ordination - The ability to execute actions with the feet, guided by the eyes.
Tactile perception - The interpretation of information transmitted via the fingertips to the brain.
Stereognosis - The ability to recognize unseen objects using the sense of touch.
I hope that this information is helpful to understand what goes into my quality programming in the early learning experience for each child. The children will look forward to a positive learning environment in school when they are older and it brings them more confidence to reach their personal goals.