Learning through play is a child’s essential work

When a child plays with cars, much learning is happening, from science
and spatial relationships to math and geography.  Photo: Karen Cameron

By Lauren Weber

The COVID-19 pandemic has made us all think about essential work. Who are essential workers and what essential work must go on? While health care, grocery supply and emergency services all seem like obvious essential work, what about play? The essential work of children is to play, as it is through play that they learn and develop their minds and bodies.

When you see your child scooping and dumping sand or water or toys from buckets to bowls or to the ground and repeating this again and again, you might see a big mess!  But we also see a scientist at work, observing how different materials move, listening to the sounds, feeling the weights, comparing volumes of containers. Without formally doing so, they are creating hypotheses and testing them out. When you are part of this play, help to give them vocabulary, ask questions, name the learning. “Which one holds more? What was louder? You figured out which one is heavier!”

When you see your child setting up a tea party for their dolls or stuffies, you might see this as a cute game, but did you know they are working hard? They are menu planning, often mimicking what they have seen you do in the kitchen. They are doing math, counting the number of guests and setting the right number of places at the table. They are practising conversation and expression as they dramatize the party.

When you see your child playing with toy cars, you might hear lots of engine noises and see cars rolling all over the room. So much learning is happening! There is science, as the various cars are tested down slopes to see which is fastest. There is spatial relationship learning, as they try to fit cars into a parking garage. They do math and sorting as the cars get organized by colour or type. They do geography by recreating mini versions of their neighbourhoods, driving their cars to familiar places like the park, the pool and the grandparents’ house.

We are so thrilled at Good Morning Creative Arts and Preschool to be open again with a full slate of programs, so that we can give children opportunities to get back to their essential work and to socialize with friends in a safe and stimulating environment. If you are interested in registering your toddler, preschooler or school-age child for one of our programs, there are still some spots available.

New this year at Good Morning: a Full Day Preschool program on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and an After School Art Class with pick up from Glebe schools Monday to Friday (minimum registration required).

There is still room in all our programs. Please check the website for details at gmcaps.com or email goodmorningpreschool@gmail.com.

Lauren Weber is an educator at Good Morning Creative Arts and Preschool.

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