Learning Through Life Experiences: How Preschool Children Play and Learn
Ask preschool-age children what they like to do, and you will almost always hear them shout “play!” Young children learn about the world around them by playing – both by themselves and with others. They are naturally curious learners who are interested in how things feel, smell, taste and work and enjoy engaging in new experiences. This is central to the Building Kidz approach to high-quality early childhood education.
Fred Rogers, creator of the renowned preschool children’s television show Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, studied at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Child Development. For his show and in his speeches, he regularly touted the importance of play in helping children develop socially and emotionally, noting that children practice what they are learning through their play.
“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning,” he said. “But for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.”
His beliefs echo those of John Dewey, a highly regarded educator and philosopher. He is often noted as a founder of progressive education in which students learn by hands-on experiences instead of lecture-type instruction.
“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself,” he said. “Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results.”
How Pre-K Children Play and Learn Best
Preschool children watch, listen, touch and explore everything they encounter and apply what they learn as they grow and develop. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) lists 10 Things Every Parent Should Know About Play. Their list mirrors Fred Rogers’ and John Dewey‘s beliefs that play and learning are intertwined for children.
Children learn and play best in a safe, nurturing environment where they feel comfortable trying new activities. At Building Kidz, our teachers provide caring and individual attention to support each child’s unique needs and encourage their academic, social and emotional development. Our preschool curriculum introduces language, math, science and social skills in a way to encourage learning at each child’s own pace.
“All children are born artists. They love to sing, act, and dance. At Building Kidz, our children are learning in an environment that enables them to engage effortlessly,” said Sanjay Gehani, Partner and Chief Marketing Officer at Building Kidz.
Real-Life Experiences Make Learning Fun
At Building Kidz, learning is experiential, imitative and sensory-based. Monthly and weekly themes bring learning to life through hands-on experiences and activities. Math and science skills are developed with real-life experiences and supported by elements of the performing arts. Language experiences are introduced with performing arts integration to support accelerated literacy and language development.
Our approach to learning through real-life experiences helps make learning fun and creates a basis that children “learn by doing.” For example, in the fall, children might collect, sort and count leaves. Then, they would examine the leaves with magnifying glasses, talk about what they observe and wonder about how leaves work.
Role-playing is another fun and instinctive way children learn. In fact, it’s an embedded behavior in children. They perform it naturally without previous learning or adult explanations. Unlike other activities that include directions, such as sports or video games, children only need to watch an adult doing something before beginning to imitate them.
Role-playing is a significant part of the Building Kidz essence, and we aspire to take it to its maximum expression. Our children incorporate role-play and performing arts into all aspects of their learning. We offer weekly lessons in music and dance, and theater is embedded in our daily routine. Our unique way of viewing role-play inspires us to build environments with buildings, city blocks, plazas and streets for children to play at being adults, with almost any of the different professions and trades available in a real one. This integration supports accelerated literacy and language development as well as social and emotional growth.
We invite you to learn more about our age-appropriate programs here or explore our learning-through-play approach by visiting one of our centers nationally to see our philosophy, children and teachers in action.