Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Children Learn Through Play

Reid is about to embark on his first school journey. Next week he'll join the world of "Ready 4 Learning", or PreK, or 4K, or you could just call it regular old Preschool. Seriously, why are there so many different names for it?  Anyway, he had his open house today. It mostly went as expected.

First, we found his "coat room" hanger, and hung his backpack up. Then, we waited in line to meet his teacher. I was more than impressed. She was so kind and patient. There was a rather large line waiting to greet her and head into the classroom, but she didn't rush anybody and listened to all their comments and concerns as they entered the classroom.

She was probably relieved when we simply shook her hand and told her our names, moving right along to the 10 point checklist of things to do for the day. Inside Reid's classroom I was immediately relieved. Every corner was a play station. One corner of the room had a large play kitchen with buckets of accessories. Across from that was a nursery with several realistic baby dolls and changing items. Another corner had building blocks and car garages. My favorite corner was the comfy and inviting reading center, adjacent the puppet theater. In the center of the room tables stood as a gathering place for school supplies. "Here Reid, let's open up your backpack and start putting away your supplies," I said.

"No Mama! I want to do it all by myself," he replied while busying himself with the task at hand.

Perfect, then I'll start filling out five different permission and volunteer forms while simultaneously trying to stop your little sister from pulling out every toy she can see and also avoid drowning in your baby sisters drool, as she ravenously lunges from/for my chest. That part was rather chaotic. But Reid's part was wonderful. He loved the whole experience and as we were leaving I even pretended to be a bus driver and showed him exactly where he'll be dropped off and picked up each day.

He told me his favorite part of the whole adventure was finding his name (near the coat hanger, on the bulletin board, and elsewhere). He was pretty bummed the boy he instantly became buddies with is in the AM class. He told me he can't wait to meet a friend who can come over to our house to play, "because our house is so much fun."

After 50 minutes of filling out forms, wrangling my children, and searching for the answers to all my questions we packed up and headed to the library. Nell was in hysterics most of the morning. That little room was three-year-old heaven and she did not want to leave. One mother said, "Oh, my kid feels the same way. Is she AM or PM?"

"She's two," was my quick reply. "So, she's neither."

"Oh!" she said with a little shock, "then I guess you can't just tell her to get over it, she won't be back on Tuesday."

I chuckled a little bit, "No, if she really understood this is where her big brother is going when he leaves her everyday, I think it'd just add to her misery."

We love play at our house, and having such an inviting play space just out of reach was crushing my little Nell Bell.

Now, as I'm typing this, all three children are quietly sleeping and I'm reading the entire Ready 4 Learning Handbook. As I soaked up the words on the "Philosophy" page and thought back to our visit, I can't help but feel grateful for this Preschool opportunity.

That Philosophy just speaks to my soul. Little kids learn through play! Pretend play builds problem solving and critical thinking skills. It helps them learn to think abstractly and build empathy. Play is crucial for healthy childhood development. And while I think I've done my best to foster a safe play environment during Reid's first five years of life ...

Building every Duplo set we own,

pulling silly faces until we laugh ourselves silly,

and bonding with little sisters. 

Attending special story times

and hands on community preschool classes.
Mud painting
and snake watching.
Pretending we're baby robins, eating delicious gummy worms and drinking from our special (tiny) bird baths.
Splashing in puddles,

exploring streams,

and understanding the wonder that is water.

Completing our library summer reading program (and scoring these sweet free books!).
Play is crucial and I love playing with my little boy, but I'm ready to let a well trained teacher help me in my efforts to give Reid the best. From the Philosophy: "Children learn more through play when they have well-trained teachers who know how to respond to, guide, and extend their play to increase learning -- and how to assess their development by observing their play."

I love my role as mother, and I love, love the toddler/preschool stage, but I am not cut out to be an Elementary teacher. I'm just not. I'm so ready for this next stage in motherhood. Bring on the school days!


Dad said...

Awesome post. Little Reid is growing up. His Pre-School experience sounds like it will be wonderful. I'm excited.

Claudia said...

Oh my how Pat Schena would love your post!! She is very much into children learning through play. Sounds like a most wonderful opportunity awaits Reid....and perhaps a not so wonderful one for Nell. She will miss her big bro!

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