We have talked about the interest areas in a preschool classroom, and the importance of each. Now- why exactly do I set up my classrooms with these interest areas? It’s not just off the top of my head! Research and Early Childhood theories outline 5 domains of early childhood development. (I actually have 6- you will read why in a moment) Let’s take a look at these.
Physical/ Gross Motor: This involves learning to use all of the “big” muscles in the body. Crawling, walking, running, skipping, jumping, and climbing are all important big muscle activities for preschoolers. Research also shows a link in gross motor activities and reading skills.
Fine Motor: Fine motor activities teach hand-eye coordination. Most of the time, these skills are included in the physical domain. I like let them stand on their own. These activities require a child to learn to precisely control the muscles in the hands. Things like coloring, writing, cutting with scissors, using tweezers, tearing paper, etc. all help build fine motor skills.
Communicative/Language: This domain includes the letter recognition, phonemic awareness, oral, and written language. Development of these skills helps your child understand verbal and eventually written language, and enables them to hold a back and forth conversation. Talking about things throughout the day is important. READ READ READ to your child!! From infancy on, reading to your kids is so very important. They will learn their ABC’s as well as the sounds each letter makes, and will begin to tell their own stories. Plus it’s a nice time to sit and enjoy this time with them!
Cognitive: This domain refers to learning and thinking. This includes cause-and-effect, reasoning, as well as early math skills. Counting , organizing and patterning are also included in this domain. During the preschool years, your child will also learn to ask –wh questions: Who, What, Why and When. And of course How? Attention span begins to increase as well.
Social/Emotional: Your child is a social being! Learning to “play” (especially with others) is a skill. “Teaching” in this domain also involves making sure a child feels safe and nurtured. This domain is often overlooked, or considered a natural progression- but is nurtured through group games and activities. Imaginative play blossoms in a preschooler, and young children learn to work through anxiety, worry, and anger through this kind of play.
Self-Help/Adaptive: Activities in this domain include learning to dress oneself, feed oneself, use the toilet, brush teeth, bathing, tying shoes, snapping, zipping etc. Everything that a child needs to know to start being more independent could be included in this domain. It is important to let your child do things themselves whenever possible to nurture this domain. Pouring their own drink, getting their own snack, and having small chores like watering plants, or feeding pets help your preschooler develop adaptive skills.
You can see now, why the interest areas are the way they are in my class. The domains frequently intersect, and are not mutually exclusive at all! This list is by no means exhaustive- and if you follow the links below, you can find out more!