What is a play-based preschool program?
Play is behaviour that is freely chosen, personally directed and intrinsically motivated. It is a natural behaviour of children and is essential for healthy cognitive, physical, social and emotional development. Pioneering developmental psychologist Jean Piaget famously said “Play is the work of children”.
A play-based preschool program respects children’s preference for freely chosen activities and uses their natural curiosity to encourage learning and development. It uses a combination of child-led and adult initiated activities. Aims of a play-based program include:
- fostering curiosity and enthusiasm for learning
- supporting communication and language development
- promoting children’s health and well-being through active and interactive physical activity
- healthy personal, social and emotional development including:
- building a strong sense of self and self-confidence
- understanding and respect for others
- managing feelings and learning appropriate behaviour
What makes play-based preschools different from playing at home?
The preschool teachers use their knowledge and experience in child development to understand each child’s stage of development and personal learning style. Through a teaching process termed ‘scaffolding’, teachers introduce new concepts and information into children’s play, leading them progressively through their learning objectives. Scaffolding encourages independent problem-solving, self-help skills and creativity, while building children’s confidence in their own abilities as competent learners.
Social interactions aspect are a critical aspect to play-based preschools. During play, children learn from one another while learning the essential life skills of cooperation, negotiation and collaboration. Learning to manage conflict is also an important part of this play. With the support of teachers, children will develop these invaluable social skills necessary for regulating their own behaviour and getting along with others.
Is a play-based preschool right for my child?
All children benefit from a play-based education. It is an approach that lends itself to individualised learning, allowing each child to progress at a pace that suits them. Play-based education encourages problem-solving and creativity in a supportive learning environment. The skills learned during this critical period in child development are crucial for future academic and social success. With its combination of child-led and adult initiated activities, play-based education provides an excellent early learning experience for any child and gives them the skills to be successful learners in the K-12 school system.