The Importance of Play
Developmentally speaking, from birth to age six are extremely crucial years in a child’s life as that is when they begin to acquire the communication skills and cognitive, emotional and social development that will persist throughout the remainder of their lives. For this reason, teaching preschool is a very challenging though ultimately rewarding task.
The current philosophy of early childhood education focuses mainly on the importance of play in a child’s educational experience. Play is important because it allows children to interact with and explore the environment around them as well as others in that environment. It also encourages children to use their fledgling imaginations to create and discover new things about themselves and the world around them. Finally, play challenges children to take risks that will help add to their understanding of their world.
When teaching preschool, it is important to have a series of hands-on activities for the children to engage in play, both alone and as a part of the group. Preschool is one of the greatest opportunities for children to develop social skills by interacting with their peers. Developmentally speaking, children also learn about their own identity as well as their place within the social environment of school.
Keep the classroom stocked with products made especially for younger children, as this will help them build self-confidence by the process of independent learning. Certain toys, such as Duplo or Lego, will aid children in developing both gross and fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
Reading for Developmental Stages
While independent learning is important at this stage in the game, preschool teachers are there to help children explore and interpret the world around them. When preparing to teach preschool, an instructor must develop a familiarity with childhood developmental stages and processes, and how to approach children who are at varying stages in their development. Children with siblings, for example, may be further along in their social development than only children, and a good preschool teacher should be able to use that knowledge in their favor.
When teaching preschool, it is important to have clear, concise preschool lesson plans that span a wide variety of topics such as math, reading, social studies, art and physical education. Therefore, they can create a learning environment that fosters intellectual development while reinforcing notions of creativity, healthy self-esteem, and regard and care for others.
Most preschool teachers have fond memories of doing arts and crafts in their younger years. Remember that not all children will grow up to be the next Picasso or Rembrandt, so it’s the process that counts, not the product. Preschool teachers don’t have to have state of the art materials for their crafts. Old toothbrushes that have been sanitized with bleach, Q-Tips, pipe cleaners, and the eraser end of old pencils all function excellently as paint brushes.
Finally, every great preschool teacher can make a mean batch play dough. Try mixing 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of water, 2 teaspoons of cream of tartar, 1 teaspoon of oil and ¼ cup of salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add food coloring and stir until smooth. Remove from heat and knead the dough until blended. Place the dough in an airtight container until it’s ready to be used.