Play, play, play, play, play, play, play. Play is a child’s work at this time in their life. Our job is not to cram their heads with knowledge as we would cram a chicken to make chicken liver pâté. Our job is to surround them with conversation, books, experiences and free time to play as a child wants to play. It doesn’t have to be educational to be educational.
As well as for play, the climbing equipment in playgrounds and nurseries is highly necessary for our children’s academic development. When children climb, hang and swing from the bars, they are building upper body strength and developing the gross motor skills (involved in movement and coordination of the arms, legs, and other large body parts and movements). Children can only develop the fine motor skills (control of their hands and fingers) of holding and using pencils, cutting with scissors, mark making, writing, etc if they have the gross motor skills to build on. You can’t control your fingers and hands optimally if you haven’t fully mastered control of the arms, shoulders, neck and back.
In the preschool years, children play, swing, jump, run, swim, dance, jump, hop and climb so that their muscles, brain and coordination develop. This is the ‘work’ of the preschool years! This ‘work’ and development means that they can easily and gradually learn to write, draw, cut and use tools as they grow.
Trust the process. Trust the gradual development and evolution of their abilities. Your child’s personality, needs, intellectual capacity, interests and motivations are things that you and their teachers will learn and work with to hone their learning environment. They are not empty vessels to be filled with the world’s knowledge as fast as is humanly possible. Let them play, play, play, play, play, play, play.
Here are some of my favourite resources for play-based learning through activities and real life stuff: