Children Gain Powerful Knowledge Through Play

Children learn through play. You hear us say this often, but what does it mean? From birth, children are active participants in building their own understanding. They do this by experimenting, observing, and participating with other children and adults.

Children construct knowledge and build on what they already know. Adults observe each child. They watch the children work with the materials and toys. Teachers prepare the environment to help each child build on what they already know. What does this look like in the early childhood classroom?

Here is a quick tour of what a child is learning as they play with the different materials, media, and toys.

In the manipulatives and games interest center you may see your child working a puzzle or building. They are learning:

  • Small muscle control
  • Eye-hand coordination
  • To increase their focus ability and concentration skills
  • Parts-to-whole concepts
  • One to one correspondence and sets

In the writing/art center you may see your child doodling on paper with a marker or a pen. They are learning:

  • Utilization of fine motor skills
  • Visual discrimination
  • About shape, color, space, and texture
  • To express their thoughts on paper
  • To experiment with letter sounds (invented spelling)
  • To construct words, phrases, and sentences
  • The power of print
  • The importance of literacy
  • The joy of reading and writing

In the dramatic play center your child may be dressing up or pretending to serve a friend food. They are learning:

  • To interact with others
  • Empathy through role playing
  • To take turns and to share
  • Relationship of home, school, and the community
  • Language skills and new vocabulary
  • Math concepts, such as more/less

In the block center you may see your child building a "farm" or making a "road." They are learning:

  • Spatial relationships and physical properties of objects
  • Cooperation
  • Problem solving skills
  • Math concepts such as size, shape, weight, and volume.

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