The Importance of Learn and Play Childcare

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Learn and Play childcare programs integrate education into children’s everyday learning experiences, capitalizing on their innate curiosity and motivation to explore. Vine Assessments form an integral part of this program to track children’s development.

Play is something children select on their own and enjoy immensely. It encompasses activities like running and jumping, object play (with toys or games), dramatic/pretend play, and storytelling-narrative play.

Dramatic Play

Dramatic play (commonly referred to as imaginative or pretend play) is an integral component of learn-and-play childcare, wherein children adopt roles to create imaginary scenarios or recreate real-world interactions using props and staged environments. Teachers can guide by introducing themes or providing props explicitly tailored for that scenario; unstructured dramatic play allows kids to use their imagination freely and revisit methods from daily life outside the center.

Imagined or dramatic play is an invaluable way for children to develop cognitive, physical, and social development. It provides them a platform to practice problem-solving techniques, build self-esteem and confidence, and develop empathy. When children play such games with others, it is known as sociodramatic play and is an essential step towards socialization processes.

Playful or imaginative play allows children to explore various social situations, from working together in a supermarket to reenacting scenes from their family life. This can provide an invaluable learning opportunity about family dynamics, male vs. female roles, and other cultures around the globe; plus, children may pick up story structures and characters, which could develop their literacy skills further.

Science

Science is an integral component of daily life for children, and science plays an essential role in their everyday experiences. While some may lack access to nature at home (particularly those living in poverty), most young children spend most of their time in childcare settings where they can experiment with materials and ask questions about their environment.

Exploratory learning for children under adult guidance effectively hones scientific inquiry skills that will serve them throughout their academic lives, such as understanding that scientific investigation is integral to natural scientists’ jobs. Exploratory learning should not just be about fun; adults must help kids harness their full potential! Practicing scientific inquiry through play also gives children vital preparation for school. This skill development is essential to ensure children’s success in the early grades, where finding answers to their inquiries becomes critical to academic success and understanding the work of natural scientists is integral.

Observing, classifying, and predicting are crucial science methods that should be taught early in education. They can be learned using simple hands-on materials or through activities that simulate actual scientific tasks, such as mixing paint colors or submerging objects in water to see which sink or float.

The Play and Learn Science app helps develop these vital skills through kid-friendly games that promote questioning, observation, and making observations. It was created in partnership with PBS Ready to Learn, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, with funding support from the U.S. Department of Education.

Physical Development

Physical development is an integral component of learning and play. It helps children build muscle mass and coordination while increasing body awareness and providing exercise. Furthermore, children will enjoy various tactile experiences when playing with water, sand, clay, or paint-related materials, enhancing cognitive development.

Children’s movement play can help them meet developmental milestones, such as improving fine motor skills. This may involve grasping objects with their fingers or toes, such as toys with buttons and knobs, stacking cups or more giant puzzle toys, and role-playing with friends to feed their dolls or drive around a car around the block.

Physical play is essential in all areas of learning and helps support infant and toddler social-emotional development. Pushing toys repeatedly reveals cognitive development; building physical skills through play allows children to interact more socially while expressing themselves more freely, e.g., pointing at objects or asking for things when frustrated (social-emotional development).

Teachers and caregivers can promote physical play by creating indoor and outdoor spaces where children can freely move and use their large muscles and creating flexible development plans that accommodate infants’ and toddlers’ physical needs. Furthermore, they should ensure all children have access to indoor/outdoor resources that allow them to engage in cooperative play or independent activity.

Art

Art is one of the greatest gifts we can give preschoolers. It enables them to develop creative thinking, fine and gross motor skills, cognitive development, and imagination. Through art-based play, children explore the properties of various materials such as paint, clay, and paper by pressing, squeezing, rolling, poking, and pinching them in multiple ways until they discover their properties and learn to manipulate them to achieve desired effects.

Art activities foster cognitive development by teaching children to interpret sensations, follow directions, and observe their environment. By offering children a range of art materials and encouraging experimentation, they can craft something unique from their imagination and inspiration.

Children can engage in art projects alone or with their friends to gain valuable collaborative and problem-solving experience, while working on group projects helps boost social skills and self-esteem that will serve them in future school years.

CCEI provides childcare training courses that focus on the importance of art in early learning. CUR126: Art in Early Learning is an introductory two-hour beginner course that grants 0.2 IACET CEU upon completion. You can gain more information about this and other early learning courses by signing in or signing up for a free trial with CCEI.