The Learning Process
We know that children develop in many different areas as they grow – cognitively, physically, socially, and emotionally. We also know that when children develop skills in one dimension, learning occurs in other dimensions as well. A wonderful example that demonstrates how these diverse dimensions integrate is presented in Planning for Success. Consider the following:
“Think about a six-month-old girl who sees a brightly colored ball across the room. First the child notices the ball (vision) and begins to crawl toward the ball (gross motor). She knows from having played with it before that it rolls and bounces (cognition). The child reaches out and grabs the ball with one hand (fine motor), then squeals with delight (emotion) and says “Ba!” (language). The child sits back down, then extends her hand and tosses the ball to you (motor and social). You catch the ball and can tell from the child’s face that she is very pleased with herself (self-esteem)!”
(Hardin, Belinda J., et al, Planning for Success, Kaplan Press, Lewisville, NC, 1997, p. 13.)
At O2B Kids College, we recognize the value of integrated learning, and incorporate this focus into our daily planning. The following Learning Centers provide the “places” that this amazing cross-functional learning takes place.
O2B Kids College offers a wonderful assortment of distinct play areas in each classroom. Specific activity areas include the following:
Art provides children with ways to communicate their experiences, ideas, and feelings. As children work on their creations, they are also strengthening the small muscles of their hands and refining their eye-hand coordination.
Building Things Area
Blocks are a way for children to learn about size, shape, color, balancing, planning, problem solving, counting, and measuring. Group block play also promotes sharing and stimulates imagination.
Cognitive and Language Activities
Provides children with opportunities to investigate a concept in depth, to understand how objects are alike and different, to observe, categorize, and develop ideas about patterns, sequences, and outcomes, and to learn about past, present, and future.
Dramatic Play Activities
Dramatic play stimulates language development, imagination, and social skills.
Fine Motor Activities
Fine motor or manipulative activities help improve eye-hand coordination and strengthen the muscles that are critical for writing. These activities also develop problem-solving skills, and teach children to match, sort, and identify parts of a whole.
Gross Motor Activities
Young children need large muscle activity on a daily basis with both indoor and outdoor experiences. Time spent using large muscles during interactive play not only helps develop coordination, it helps develop communication and team-building skills as well.
Early Literacy Activities
Exposing children to books at an early age teaches them to love reading and to turn to books for pleasure and information. Listening to, telling, and acting out stories provides children with opportunities to develop listening and language skills while sharing experiences with others.
When children express themselves through music, they are learning to use their bodies and voices in a variety of enjoyable ways. Differences in sound and pitch stimulate their imaginations. Dance and movement provide opportunities for exercise, sharing space, and unique learning.
Sand and Water Activities
Sand and water activities are valuable ways for children to explore and manipulate their world. They provide opportunities to learn math and science concepts, such as conservation of volume, and to share their ideas about cause and effect. While they are enjoying the way the sand feels and changes, the children can use their creativity to plan without fear of failure.
Science and Discovery Activities
Children are naturally eager to learn about the world in which they live. A science/discovery center provides opportunities for them to refine their observation skills, test out their own theories about how and why things work, learn about animals and plants, and wonder about the natural environment.
Source: Hardin, Belinda J., Ed., A New Planning Guide: To the Preschool Curriculum, Chapel Hill Training-Outreach Project, Chapel Hill, NC and Kaplan Corporation, Lewisville, NC, 1994, p. ix-xii.
The world begins to open up at this very curious age. As language rapidly develops, our teachers introduce new songs, stories, and picture books to stimulate word recognition and articulation. Children begin to learn important independence skills at this age, so the classroom is set up to provide children with many opportunities for self-initiated repetition that instills a feeling of success in each child. Although the concept of sharing begins to develop, the classroom provides duplicate materials and toys which helps avoid conflict among young toddlers. Movement, movement, and more movement is part of every day. Whether the focus is on large muscle groups and outside play, or small muscle groups used to paint, build, or put together puzzles, your child is actively engaged by our caring staff.
The Preschool Schedule
A schedule of activities guides each day. Activity periods combine teacher-directed and child-initiated offerings, and include small-group, large-group, outside, eating, resting, and special event periods. A consistent schedule gives children confidence, and allows them to safely anticipate all daily transitions. Daily routines are flexible enough, however, to adapt to the spontaneous events and unexpected fascinations that children have to a particular unit. This flexibility not only creates happy children, but it maximizes the learning process.