Preschoolers can use every moment at the kindergarten to learn something new or develop a skill.
Wait a second. Every moment? Isn’t that stretching the reality a little too far? Sure, kids learn many things in the kindergarten, but can they spend every moment of it ‘learning’?
What if we were to tell you that learning can and should happen everywhere and all the time within early years setups? If you’re wondering how a child can learn, unless they are engaged in a pre-planned activity lead by a teacher, keep reading. We hope these 5 tips will inspire you to transform kindergarten days to promote continuous learning and development of tiny tots.
1. Arrival Time
Arriving at the kindergarten every morning can be quite hectic. Parents and children shuffling through small corridors saying hurried goodbyes, is the last place you would expect learning to happen. However, remember this is when children take off their outerwear such as shoes, jackets and hats. Which means they can start learning how to tie and untie shoelaces, work those pesky zippers and put things away in an organised manner. Moving on, they will step into the washroom area to clean their hands. Finally, they will greet their teachers and friends before settling in for the daily lessons and activities. So to recap during arrival time children can develop their fine motor skills, self-care and hygiene, as well as social interactions.
Whether it’s a packed lunch or a meal offered by the school, mealtime is a fantastic opportunity for students and teachers to learn together. First and foremost this is the ideal moment to learn about table manners relevant to your local culture or country. Furthermore, what better time to learn about nutrition, different tastes, flavours and cuisines than while eating? Ask children what they like and don’t like, and help them to express their opinions in a constructive way. For instance it’s much better to say ‘I don’t like how squidgy this fish feels’, than ‘Yuck! This fish is gross!’.
Help them to understand the journey food takes to come to their plates. Talk about where the ingredients come from and who prepares them. Discuss the importance of a well balanced meal. Support them to take on the responsibility of not wasting food as well as respecting and protecting the sources it came from. Before you know it mealtimes will become one of the most sort after and effective learning moments within the daily kindergarten routine.
3. Rest and Nap Time
Taking a nap is an essential part of the kindergarten day. While younger children settle in for longer naps, the others should also spend some down time reenergising. This is an excellent moment for kids to develop mindfulness. They can focus on how to relax their body and mind, and break free from the hustle and bustle around them. It is their opportunity to understand the importance of taking time to attend to their own wellbeing. Furthermore, they can learn to respect the space and time needed for their classmates to rest. If for instance some children prefer not to nap they can engage in free play in a separate space, and remember to use quiet voices and calm movements.
4. Free Play
Free play is when children engage in activities with no specific structure or rules. They have the freedom to decide how and what to play, in an environment prepared and monitored by the teacher. Free play is an ideal learning opportunity because the freedom of choice and autonomy it gives boosts the intrinsic motivation of children. It particularly helps preschoolers to develop their creativity, imagination and abstract thinking. Moreover, free play also fuels their curiosity and prompts them to discover and try new things. Children will soon start making up their own games and rules, while collaborating and thinking critically to solve the problems they encounter along the way.
Time to leave the kindergarten for the day is yet another rushed period. Children are often impatient to see their parents and head home. However, this is an excellent moment to pause for a second and reflect on the activities of the day. Encourage children to think of what they liked or didn’t like, and found difficult or easy. Use this time to enable them to self-evaluate and explore their strengths and interests. Share with them the schedule for the following day and ask their input on what they would like to do. Familiarising and following daily routines in the kindergarten is not enough to help children achieve the learning goals set for them. They should also be able to influence the actual events and experience the importance of their role. Finally, help them to pack up their toys and say goodbye to their friends further developing their social skills.
A kindergarten works well when every moment is appreciated and utilised in an optimal way. What other creative ways do you use to make learning happen throughout the kindergarten day? Let us know!
Find out more about the Fun Learning approach and creative solutions we offer.