“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” – Fred Rogers, educator and Emmy-winning creator of the children’s show, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood
The idea of learning through play is a key principle here at The International Preschools. Our school mission states in part that “through play, we promote the cognitive, emotional, social and physical growth of each child in a nurturing atmosphere.” It is believed that, through this practice, children will learn the necessary social and cognitive skills that they will use throughout their lives. How, you might ask, can these goals be accomplished?
Teachers combine the learning through play ideology with a thematic and interdisciplinary curriculum at The International Preschools. Across all three locations, classes are given a choice each month of themes with a common subject matter that children can explore within their classrooms (e.g. during November, possible themes include family, harvest/food, being thankful, and Native Americans; all of these topics are part of an overall “Thanksgiving” theme). Each class will explore the chosen theme in all centers of the room. The Book Center will have Thanksgiving-themed books to look at during quiet reading time; the Sensory Center might be filled with cornmeal to pour into cups and bowls; the Discovery Center might have a variety of harvest foods (corn, squash, pumpkins) to examine using a scale and magnifying glasses. Art projects center around harvest: rolling corn in paint to make prints on paper. Language development activities might include reading a Thanksgiving-related book: Thanksgiving Is For Giving Thanks by Margaret Sutherland and then having each child think of one thing (a loved one, a pet, toys, etc.) that he/she would like to say “thank you” for at this time of year. As a result, children will learn several things throughout this unit, including (a)Thanksgiving as being a time to say thank you for all the wonderful things in their lives, and (b) how food is grown and harvested during this time of year. During units such as these, children effectively learn in a hands-on, immersion-style approach by being surrounded by the subject in every way.
To strengthen a child’s fine motor skills, in addition to their pre-reading, pre-math, and pre-writing skills, children at IPS participate in workshops and/or “Table Time.” During this part of the day, children actively take part in the “learning through play” ideology; children work at tables in small groups on a chosen skill, where teachers can assist and facilitate as needed. For example, a Table Time/Writer’s Workshop focusing on increasing fine motor readiness for writing might have a few tables set up to practice this skill. One activity/table would require children to create necklaces, where children employ a pincer grip (grasp between the thumb and forefinger) to complete. At another table, children might explore with small Legos to build with, once again requiring a strong pincer grip to maneuver. At the Writing Center, children use a variety of writing utensils (small pencils, markers, crayons), in addition to scissors and tape, which require the manipulation of a child’s hand skills. All of the above activities are seen as “playing,” or fun for the children; at the same time, children are learning basic writing skills needed for their future academic careers.
Curriculum Night at The International Preschools will allow for parents to experiment and explore the variety of games, activities, and tools that teachers use every day in the classroom, in the same hands-on fashion as their children do. We hope that you will enjoy your experience with learning through play as much as your children (and teachers) do!
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