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Monday, July 28, 2014

Let them PLAY!!


Welcome to It's a Preschool Thing! This is my blog about all things preschool including best practices, philosophies, classroom ideas and more.

My name is Ms. Dawn and I have been teaching preschool for 16 years.  I am blessed to absolutely LOVE what I do! The absolute joy I feel when I connect with a young child is hard to describe. The excitement I feel when a child makes a discovery makes going to work something I can't wait to do. I am helping these small humans learn to navigate their world. I am teaching more than ABC's and 123's- I am fostering empathy, building problem solving, teaching self help and critical thinking skills, encouraging a love of books and reading, providing a safe place for explorations, and building a community.

I have had the opportunity to work in many environments- from private preschool, to Head Start, and now in a cooperative preschool- and each experience brought it's own joys, frustrations, and learning experiences. One constant is that each year brings new personalities, new ideas and a whole lot of fun!

Volcano science
Preschool should be all about the fun- the simple joy of learning through play. Young children are developing at a rapid pace. Physically, emotionally and academically, changes are occurring every day. What may look like "just playing" to an adult, is actually a preschooler learning to navigate this big world, drawing on life experiences and putting it into a context their developing brain can understand.  Play is a preschooler's work, and is a very important part of the whole learning process.  Play stimulates brain development, creating necessary neural connections, while observing young children at play you can almost see those synapses firing, all of those connections being made! Studies show that play is vital in the development of cognitive skills, young children learn classification, grouping, making plans to achieve goals and interacting with others. Motor skills are developed through play, from running and jumping, to fine motor skills like pinching and grasping- important pre-writing skills.  Play enhances language skills, talking, singing and  word play help to learn and master letter and word sounds.  Play helps children develop social and emotional skills, learning to take turns and work with others are things we all have to do every day!  

 One example is when your preschooler plays with blocks. They are like little engineers, experimenting with balance, structure, space, and even gravity. Have you ever watched your child attempt to build a simple tower, only to have it fall down at a particular height? Perhaps you have noticed that they tried different ways of placing the blocks until they finally construct a tower that stays up. Believe it or not, this is the basis of the scientific method  of experimentation, observation, and cause-and-effect to solve the problem of the tumbling tower. Block building teaches basic math concepts such as  shape, size, area, even geometry and  measurement.  Best of all, blocks are an open ended activity that allows young children to use their imaginations!

Another example is dramatic play, otherwise known as "kitchen/housekeeping." This interest area has endless possibilities!  In my classroom our dramatic play area has been a flower shop, restaurant, coffee shop, pet store and  grocery store just to name a few. Dramatic play encourages role playing, the use of materials/props, make believe and social skills and interactions.

Art projects are more than just "parent pleasers." I provide different types of paper, crayons, markers, tape, glue, safe scissors, yarn, paint and so much more to encourage open ended creativity  as well as  developing small muscle control and hand/eye coordination.  We do class art projects as well, but my focus is on the process rather than the product.  Your hippo has six eyes and is orange? Great!

The students in my class are busy! Buy exploring, busy getting messy, busy learning through hands on experiences- there is no time (or educational value at this age) for worksheets! 

These are just a few examples of interest areas in my classroom, stay tuned for more!  Coming up, more about the interest areas and the skill sets they promote in my class, and how to get ready for that first day of preschool.  

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