Children have a natural curiosity and are eager to explore and make sense of their world. Because research has shown that this innate desire to learn is best expressed through play, developmental experts believe that active, play-oriented learning like block building and dramatic play offer children the healthiest start in life.
Unlike our “adult view,” “play” is serious business for children – the “work” of childhood. Although learning comes through play in a natural, uncomplicated and enjoyable way, it is nonetheless of essential importance. Can a child who stacks blocks and knocks them down, or a child who scribbles with crayons, really be learning? YES!! When they play with blocks, children learn about shapes, spatial relationships and problem solving. Simple scribbles build muscle control and lead to drawing and writing.
Through play, children explore their world, learn to get along with others, test their skills and muscles, try out new ideas, and begin to feel confident enough to take risks in trying different activities and learning new things. Specifically, play contributes to the development of literacy, to thinking and problem solving, and to creativity and imagination. These are skills that empower children for a lifetime of learning. Research has shown that young children learn much more by touching, seeing, smelling and tasting than by just listening. They want to talk about their experiences and make sense of them by asking countless questions.
In St. John’s ELC’s developmentally appropriate classrooms, individual curiosity and spontaneous exploration are encouraged. Integrated throughout the curriculum are activities that stimulate learning in all developmental areas – intellectual, social, emotional and physical. Since each child has a different and style of learning that is fueled by individual curiosity, our curriculum activities are tailored both to age of the group and to the individual abilities of each child.
The teachers in our classrooms guide the children. They create a stimulating classroom environment, with well-planned activities that challenge the children. The teachers provide encouragement, offer suggestions, choices, and information, and pose thought-provoking questions. The teachers help to create an environment where each child can feel successful and competent. They contribute to your child’s intellectual and social readiness by providing ample opportunity for conversation, discussion and cooperative work and play, while helping the children to respect themselves and others. Ultimately, the self- confidence and love of learning that our staff helps to instill in the children will encourage them to become lifelong learners.