“A Play Positive Classroom”
Learning takes many forms in preschool, but one thing that might come as a surprise is how important play is to a child’s development. Children grow their understanding of the world through play, as well as enriching their fine and gross motor skills.
Here at Good Shepherd we set up our classrooms in a way that encourages all the types of play that children need for healthy growth and development. Cognitive ability is largely influenced by play. In our classrooms this might look like having a play kitchen or a cash register. These types of toys allow children to imagine what steps they would follow if they were cooking a meal or working in a store. They also encourage collaboration among students as they learn how they can best play together, by sharing the toys and working together on whatever they are imagining.
Another area that play grows a child is through their physical abilities. Outside play helps children learn how to run and move their bodies. Each of our classrooms prioritize time outside. Games such as freeze tag help children get moving while also emphasizing the importance of listening to instructions. Getting outside can also teach children about the world around them. Our classes like to take nature walks to look at different types of bugs, leaves, weather, or colors. This helps to bring our classroom instruction to life and gets kids interested in the world around them.
It does not just have to be outdoor play that aids in teaching physical ability. Toys such as blocks, magnets, and puzzles all help children learn balance and patience as they learn how to move their bodies with these more delicate types of toys. It is important to us here at Good Shepherd that we approach play with growth in mind, helping students to discover new ways to play without doing everything for them and encouraging them as they try new things, even if they find them difficult at first.
Language and literacy are also skills that are picked up during play. By having unique toys in the classroom, we can teach our students new words. An example of this might be having a doctor’s toy set in the classroom. This allows us to teach words like stethoscope, pediatrician or bandage in a way that engages the student. Teaching language does not just happen through teaching the alphabet, it is a part of everything we do here at Good Shepherd. Toys and books help us show children how we use unique words in everyday life.
Play not only teaches but it also relaxes. It is important that we keep balance in our classrooms, by providing times of classroom instruction and then breaking up the instruction with time to unwind and engage their minds through toys and outside time. Play is invaluable in the development of a child and it is woven into our classrooms here at Good Shepherd.