Learning through Play
“When activities are planned to emphasise rote learning and / or the memorization of skills, children feel frustrated as they are unable to build on their prior experiences and have difficulty constructing
any meaning”. Dodge/Colker. The Creative Curriculum for Early Childhood. 1992.
At Renown Kindergarten it has been our experience that children learn through being exposed and engaging in a variety of open ended, play based experiences. This occurs over a range of integrated curriculum areas, including maths, science, art/craft, literature, music, dance and social studies with the guidance of teachers/educators.
The kindergarten environment is carefully planned so the children are spontaneously working at making sense of the world by interacting with their environment, with materials, and with other children. In this way, children develop and refine new skills and concepts as well as more complex ways of thinking.
For example, a child rolling a toy car back and forth across the room is experimenting with area and distance (mathematics). The child scribbling on paper and then proudly ‘reading’ the story to their teacher explores language (pre-writing/pre-reading (literacy)). The child working on a collage project, attempting to get plastic wheels to fit first with glue, then sticky tape explores problem solving and creative skills (intellectual development). A child playing in a sand tray sifts, pours, combines with water etc., explores the properties of sand and water and is encouraged to ask “Where does the water go when you pour it in the sand? Why doesn’t it make a puddle?” (Science).
Educators further assist children’s learning by:
• talking to children
• asking open-ended questions
• offering age-appropriate activities and materials
• providing materials/ activities that reflect children’s interests
• allowing time to practice skills and revisit experiences
• allowing children to take an active role in their learning
• designing activities where children experience success rather than failure
• providing encouragement and positive feedback
Young children learn most effectively when the learning opportunities provided are meaningful and allow them to build on their knowledge and experience.
While most of the learning in the kindergarten occurs through open-ended experiences there are some teacher-initiated activities in the form of group or individual experiences. These experiences offer the children the opportunity to experience curriculum areas such as language (stories, poetry, story enactment), music/movement (singing, percussion, action songs/games) as well as the chance to share their experiences, ideas and theories with one another.