Learning through Play

Kingswood Pre-Primary teacher, Bridget Wilmot  writes about the importance of play for pre-primary children :

It's all in the play!

It was Albert Einstein who said, " Play is the highest form of research" and  Ralph Waldo Emerson who said, "It is a happy talent to know how to play."  Though the world is ever-changing, we cannot afford to underestimate the value of play in early childhood development.  It doesn’t matter what strengths or weaknesses a child has, PLAY has a way of connecting them to others.  They  come together and spontaneously play  and learn from each other, be this in a structured or non-structured environment.

At Kingswood Pre-Primary, play forms an integral part of our day.  In a structured environment, we use play for children to learn and discover as we strive to develop each child's full potential.  Each child is unique, and,  by  affording them the chance to develop at his/her own pace, our aim at the end of each year is to nurture happy, well-adjusted, competent and confident children.

Young children love to sing, and to this end, we are fortunate to have teachers from our Music School coming to spend time at the Pre-Primary twice a week.  These sessions involving musical games, free movement, dancing, singing and learning to distinguish between different types of music, captivate the children.  They learn so much but essentially it is all play to them.

We encounter more and more children who are battling with low muscle tone - a factor that seems to be common in an environment where children spend less time in active play.  We concentrate on developing better muscle tone in our children with the gross motor activities in our daily programme.  These activities challenge each child, on a daily basis, to do or try something that perhaps they might not otherwise attempt.

Fantasy and role play should play an important role in each child’s development.  To this end, our children are fortunate to have a large selection of “dress-up clothes”.  One of the highlights of the first term, when we are discussing families, is for the children to come to school dressed up as their “Mom or Dad”.   Their sense of humour is being developed at this stage, and while for some it is still a serious business coming dressed up as an adult, others can see the humour in it, which is all part of the learning experience.

We have enlisted the help of a part-time teacher who assist with small group activities in an attempt to meet each child’s individual needs.  This has proved to be of much value in the preparation of the Grade 1 child.  It allows us to attend individually to each child’s areas of strength and weakness.  Along with our teacher aides, it has allowed us to have a 9:1 ratio at our school.  We are able to tap into the expertise of the professionals serving our Junior School,  and at the start of each year, there are various screening processes which are completed for each child.  These include hearing, visual, speech/language and auditory perceptual skill screenings as well as  O.T. 

Our end-of-year concert has become a great confidence-building tool for our children.  The transformation, satisfaction and accomplishment that is achieved by the shy ones, is always a wonderful moment to witness.  The children all rise to the occasion, and our audiences are always astounded that the young performers are all under the age of six!  At the end of the day, the production is a culmination of all the playing - the music, the movement and the dressing up - and the fact that the moms and dads come to watch is just an added bonus!
(Published in Independent Education magazine Autumn 2014)

 

 

 


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