With the gift giving season behind us, I’ve had some adults asking me why playing with rocks and sticks would be beneficial to children. I am all too excited to tell them.
In toddlerhood, children are very literal: if they can’t see it, it’s not there. But as they grow into preschool age, their imaginations begin to grow and if we nourish that growth, the sky becomes the limit. At KCS, our goal as educators is to prepare our youngest learners for the next steps in life. Yes, those next steps include reading, writing and arithmetic, but there is more. Creativity, initiative, problem solving and team building skills become possible when using open-ended materials in play, such as items found in nature. The natural world is a wonder for children, rich in textures, smells, colours and purposes. They can bring their diverse personal experience to play, allowing them to choose, invent and inquire among peers. When early learners are given the opportunity to develop internal motivation for learning, they are more likely to enjoy school and believe in themselves in an educational setting.
So remember, if you see your pre-schooler at home choosing to play with things that aren’t their iPad or commercially-made toys, smile and ask them what they are creating. After all, we only get one chance to be this tender age, so let them make the most of it. You may end up with a scholar on your hands.
Bonnie De Kuyper, RECE