This week is Mental Health Awareness week - a good time to plan for mental wellness in our early childhood centres. With our youth struggling increasingly, and at an earlier age, with severe mental health issues, it is important to consider how their early childhood experiences can contribute to a happy outlook on life and help them build resilience and problem solving skills. Untreated anxiety places children at greater risk of poor performance at school, substance abuse and depression during adolescence.
Possibly one of the oldest kinds of play in the history of mankind, loose parts play is a spontaneous and creative way in which children engage with their environment. The term “loose parts” was coined by a British architect, Simon Nicholson, to describe materials which are used in an open-ended way. Creativity and discovery, according to Nicholson, depend on the presence of the variables available in the environment.
What is Cause and Effect Play?
Few adults who care for young children do not enjoy getting drawn into the delightful hilarity that cause and effect play tends to bring about. Cause and effect play often happens spontaneously when a young child discovers that some action that they initiate has a certain effect, often surprising or funny. Every time the little one drops that spoon on the floor and the big person picks it up, every time they shake a rattle or punch a button and the result is a sound or mechanical action, every time they pinch Granddad’s nose and he snorts playfully - the child learns that they can expect their actions to bring about certain reactions.
Fostering an appreciation for counting at a young age, is a good introduction for toddlers to the concept of numeracy. For very young children, it is important that they have fun exploring maths through everyday activities. But how do we introduce these ideas to toddlers without pressuring them to memorise numbers and do basic math drills?
When we think about creativity, the arts come to mind, whether it’s writing, painting, drawing or dancing. While those are unquestionably creative endeavours, creativity covers all domains of thinking and learning. This includes strategising, flexible thinking and problem-solving. Now more than ever, our society can benefit from people who use creativity to solve problems, communicate with others and adapt to a variety of situations.
The early developmental years are crucial in the formation of a person’s physical and mental well-being. Young children need to play freely with stimulating toys and be surrounded by the appropriate furniture. They also require comfortable places where they can rest and recharge. While the right kind of desks and chairs, suitable for very young children, are essential to daycare centres, having activity centres filled with high-quality furniture and a variety of teaching resources gives children the opportunity to maintain physical activity during daycare hours.
Children at a very young age are learning and developing quickly. They learn new lessons through various activities at home or in childcare centres. At home, parents can teach children a good deal, including good manners and the right conduct or simple greetings. At a childcare centre, children can learn fundamental academic lessons such as basic maths, science, English and other subjects which will prepare them for life.
Parents always want to ensure that their child is comfortable when left in a daycare centre. They will inspect the environment, check the facilities or even speak at length with the teachers. Parents just want to have the assurance that their child will be happy and safe. To assure parents, daycare centres have to make their environment look very appealing for young children.
As a teacher, it is important to keep a close eye on the little kids you’re in charge of. Indeed they need supervision to make sure that they don’t get hurt. It is also important, however, to give the children a space that they can call their own. Sometimes, it is okay to step back and let even very young children take charge.
Teaching children is a responsibility that we should take seriously. A child’s early education is a crucial step in showing them how important learning truly is. It is somewhat ironic then to consider that one of the best ways to learn is through play. At Play’n’Learn, we understand that a great way to get children thinking is by letting them play.