MCP is a play based preschool, what does this mean? Rather than focus purely on academics we focus on the whole child and each domain of their development. The four main domains are cognitive (thinking processes), speech and language, motor skills, both small and large motor and social emotional development. Each area is as important as the others. When we focus on one area above all others, we are missing a big piece to the puzzle of child development.
Preschool children are active, physical and driven to learn. Every activity is a learning experience from swinging on a tire swing to putting a puzzle together. You can’t separate the body from the mind at this age. As they go through their day, they are learning! Open ended play is a huge part of their development. Play develops imagination, language and vocabulary skills, social skills, and helps develop important self regulation and emotional skills. Math and literacy get in on the action as well, from spatial awareness, numeracy skills and to cognitive concepts as print awareness, letter knowledge, phonological (awareness of the sounds of letters and words).
Children in play based programs have increased engagement with materials and peers, they tend to be more independent, creative and have large vocabularies. They are more social, and have opportunities to work through conflicts with others. They need lots of opportunities to practice new social skills such as taking turns, listening and being cooperative. Their conversational skills are improved, as they navigate play scenes with others. Social skills at this age are important, practicing these skills lead to better outcomes in elementary school and beyond. It is often said Kindergarten is the new first grade, so there is a tendency to want to push Kindergarten curriculum into preschool. Child development has NOT changed! Many children are not ready for more formalized education at the age of 4. We emphasis social and emotional growth, knowing these skills will help children be more engaged, be independent and able to handle a wide variety of situations.
Teachers play a large role in setting the environment for play. We think of ourselves as facilitators of their play. Each day we providing a wide range of materials, toys and activities meet the needs of each child where they are developmentally. You can’t rush development. Each child has an internal timing and pacing to their development, just as no child walks or talks at the same time as others, they don’t learn in the same way or time.
As you can see, the advantages of a play based school are many! Come see how much fun learning can be!