Our core belief as an organization about early childhood education is that children learn best while engaging in play. This concept is commonly referred to as “play-based learning,” and describes learning and development that occurs while at play. We know play when we see it, it occurs spontaneously, is child-directed, and provides opportunities for children to socially interactive, and is fun!
We now know that quality early childhood learning experiences are essential for the development of individuals. The research has finally shown what we all have long known that early care facilities can play a key role in developing children. The Harvard Center on the Developing Child reports that positive early learning experiences lead to longer life expectancy, better overall health, enhanced abilities to manage stress, and better social-emotional capabilities. Additionally, Harvard pointed to learning through play as key factor in promoting social-emotional development.
The gold standard of play, is “free play.” “Free Play” refers to unstructured, voluntary play in which children take the lead in planning and participating in. The child participating is responsible for using their own imagination, acting on their personal interests, and determine rules on their own. When completed with other children, all participants are given the opportunity to practice their social skills, learn to negotiate rules and roles, and enhance their executive cognitive functions (goal setting, planning, emotional regulation, etc).
Our curriculum seeks to insert play into all activities. Any activity that does not include space for children to creatively express themselves, utilize a playful attitude, and provide for the opportunity for improvisation. We believe that children thrive in an environment that allows for them to be themselves, and play naturally creates that environment.
Blake Kraussel, Director of Administration and Employee Development