The Wonder Years- 2.5-4 year olds
Have you ever taken time to look through the eyes of a preschool age child? This is the age of wonder and exploration. Everything is exciting and new, even magical.
Research shows that these early years are the formative stepping stones for major milestones in a child's life.
Without doubt, families are the first and lifelong teachers. Through the parents, a baby learns the basis for all future learning. A baby learns how to trust, communicate in a non verbal manner and love. As the child grows they start to expand these skills. At 3 years of age, a child strives to build relationships with other children. They move from playing solitary to wanting to be with others the same age. Co operative play starts to emerge.
There are many different learning styles, each child learns in their own way. In present day society, many children are learning their ABCs and 123s from electronic devices. There are lots of easily accessible, educational programs and games available. These games are fun and enhance some areas of development, in moderation they are great. However, more and more they are taking the place of good old fashioned play. They can become stifling for communication and socialization skills. There is even the possibility of them becoming addictive.
The best way to teach communication skills is for children to be with others their same age. This is why preschool programs are so important. A quality preschool will offer a setting specifically designed and equipped with supplies that encourage learning through exploration. This is called a play based approach. Both toddler and preschool aged children have a keen desire to use all of their senses as they discover new skills.
A quality play based early childhood program provides a safe, inviting, learning environment with qualified Early Childhood professionals trained in child development. These teachers set up activities that encourage children to learn the skills appropriate for their ages and stages.
It's a great place for children to ignite their spark for learning, experience new adventures and share with peers.
The family unit has changed, in the past, a child used to learn their pre-math and prewriting skills in the kitchen while helping with the baking. The measuring, pouring and scooping kneading and stirring were essential parts of these skills. With many families today there is no time in our busy schedules; children are not a part of this on a regular basis. Food is mostly precut and measured even precooked. In a preschool setting these muscle strengthening and math skills are being exercised in play dough, sand and water activities; a part of everyday sensory experiences planned to capture each child's interest. One day it may be exploring the wet dry experiences of goop (baking soda and water) the next talking about the time of Dinosaurs and building an erupting volcano, using simple household supplies.
Following the philosophy of families being the most important people in a child's life, many parents find that having their inquisitive, energetic preschool child in a structured setting with other children their own age, makes for a happier relationship at home. Even if they are only in the program a few days a week. These experience help to intellectually stimulate, wear off excess energy with gross motor activities and prepare them for going into the school system as well. If a child has already learned that Mom and Dad sometimes leave them with other people. They learn how to manage the separation in a supportive fun manner. A quality preschool program will be supportive for the child and the parents. It is not easy to say good-bye. When you know your child is safe and happy it makes the transition much smoother.
As you stop to look at the next imaginative, creative masterpiece, your 2.5-4 year old has build, take time to play with them ask questions and let them tell you their story. You may be blown away by their brilliance. Sharing a Tea party, with teddy and an imaginary friend or two will be lasting memories for both of you, as well as encouraging social skill. These truly are wonder years for children and the adults who take the few precious moments to share in the magic. A child's imagination is limitless.
Gloria Janes-Shipston R.E.C.E.
Mother of 3
Gloria is an educator with Peekabo Childcare Centre. Peekaboo offers care and learning for ages 6months and up. visit them today for more information www.peekabookid.com
Peekaboo offers both part time and full time programs at all of our centres. Part time programs are available for all age groups except infants.