We see the playgroup as an extension of your children’s home. Our aim is to provide them with the kind of experiences which will help then attain optimum development not only in their creative expression through play, but in self-control, self-discipline and co-operation with others. At this stage children are not introduced to formal learning. All learning takes place through play. We provide a widely-based curriculum through which the children have the opportunity to acquire knowledge and understanding, providing progression which develops skills, concepts, positive attitudes and values. The following are the six areas of learning.
Personal, Social and Emotional Development
Upon entering pre-school education, children bring with them a variety of personal and social skills, values and attitudes. These they have acquired from relationships and experiences within the home and the immediate environment. It is important that these should be recognised and fostered.
Children are individuals in their own right and have their own personalities. They have their own likes and dislikes. Some are timid while others are extrovert. At times some are protective and at other times aggressive, some prefer to lead, some others to follow.
Young children need time for relationships to develop. Being aware that they are valued as individuals enhances children’s self-esteem and makes it easier for them to form relationships and develop friendships.
Fostering Personal, Social and Emotional Development
Appropriate opportunities will be provided in pre-school education for children to develop personal and social skills, values and attitudes. These will include the following:
- Play activities where children:
- Learn to co-operate, for example, in block play when they build together
- Learn to take turns, for example, when a new pram or tricycle is provided
- Learn to share, for example, in water play where they share containers and other equipment
- Experience the therapeutic value of working with materials, such as clay, dough, paint, sand and water
- Can explore their emotions, for example, in hospital play where they may learn to come to terms with fears.
- Play activities where children:
Children enjoy physical play both indoors and outdoors. They revel in freedom of movement and in play that is inventive, adventurous and stimulating. Fine and large motor skills and hand and eye co-ordination are developed, together with self-confidence and self-awareness. At the same time children learn social skills as they co-operate with each other and show consideration for one another. Good physical play can affect other areas of children’s learning, for example, if gives children a sense of size and space and develops their self-confidence.
Satisfying physical play takes place when:
- Children have access to:
- Suitable and safe open spaces.
- A wide variety of appropriate small and large equipment which meets with safety regulations and standards. This equipment will provide children with opportunities to extend their skills in, for example, running, hopping, jumping, climbing, balancing, throwing and catching.
- Play is planned carefully so that interest is sustained, challenge is offered and activities are balanced to provide for individual needs and abilities.
- There is sensitive adult participation and constant supervision.
- Equipment is positioned in such a way that space can be used imaginatively.
Other types of play contribute to the development of children’s fine and large motor skills. For example, fine motor skills are developed as children:
- Button doll’s clothes in house corner play.
- Screw on lids in shop play.
- Pour water into narrow-necked bottles in water play.
- Use scissors to cut various kinds of material in creative/aesthetic play.
- Engage in table top activities, such as jig-saws in construction play.
- Children have access to:
Creative play assists emotional development, promotes aesthetic awareness and is an avenue for self-expression. Children experience the joy of achievement.
Creative play gives children experiences in working with natural and man-made materials and opportunities to experiment with colour, shape and texture. Children can make models and should be free to alter them as they wish. They choose what they want to make and are encouraged to use their imagination. Their manipulative skills are developed as they use a variety of materials. They talk about their work and like to see it displayed and valued by other children and adults, including parents.
Music is another means of expression which interests children and gives them endless enjoyment and emotional satisfaction. Children love to sing, dance, take part in role play and make music. They develop quickly a sense of rhythm and delight in it.
Children should be given opportunities to develop their creative skills and aesthetic appreciation through play activities and other experiences. They may include the following:
Painting and drawing
In these activities children experience working:
- At vertical and horizontal levels.
- With paper of different colours, shapes, textures and sizes.
- With various media and tools such as paint, crayons, pencils, brushes, fingers, sponges and combs.
Paper, card, wood, fabrics and scrap materials
Children will have opportunities to work with materials of different textures which will offer them sensory experiences. They are encouraged to make pictures and models.
Children will be given opportunities to work with large amounts of clay and dough and will be given time to explore their properties and to develop their creative skills.
Language development is crucial to living and learning and is concerned with more than the growth of vocabulary. Language is used to talk to people, to share and release feelings and to give and obtain information. Language is important in the development of understanding and in the refinement of ideas.
Children’s listening and communicative skills are fostered as they talk with adults and as they play with other children. By carefully using chosen comments and open questions, adults can assist children in their thinking and help to build their confidence in the use of language. As children browse in the book corner, look at books in various areas of play and listen to stories read to them, they become aware that the printed word has meaning. Pre-writing skills develop as children play and have opportunities to experiment with a variety of media such as pencils, crayons and paint brushes. These they use to scribble and to make patterns. At this stage children should not be introduced to the formal teaching of reading or writing.
In the course of their pre-school education, children will become aware of and use other forms of communication, for example, painting, drawing, drama and other forms of non-verbal communication.
Language development occurs when:
- Children have access to a wide variety of play activities and are encouraged to talk about their experiences, ideas, feelings and achievements to one another and to adults during the course of their play.
- Adults are available to listen to and talk with the children in a relaxed atmosphere.
- Children have access to a well-stocked library of story and information books suited to their needs, interests, race and culture and when books are available in various areas of play, for example, at the house corner and interest table.
- Children have opportunities to listen to stories and rhymes told or read to them in one-to-one situations or in small and large groups.
- Children enjoy and share books with each other and engage in role play.
- Children are encouraged to be aware of print in the environment.
- Children have access to a variety of painting and writing materials.
Early Mathematical Development
Play is an effective vehicle for fostering mathematical concepts and developing positive attitudes to mathematics. Early mathematical concepts are important for everyday life and develop slowly in the young child. Adults in the pre-school setting will seek to extend informally the mathematical experiences the children have already had in their home environment. Many important mathematical concepts are inherent in play situations and other activities. These activities include stories, rhymes and daily routines.
Imaginative play such as house corner and hospital play, sand, water, construction and physical play with large equipment are among those areas of play which contribute to children’s all round development. As they engage in these play activities, children use their own everyday language to talk about mathematical concepts and, with the skilful help of adults, will begin to use mathematical language as they develop an awareness of space, size, order, pattern, number and relationships. For example, as children play they develop an awareness of:
- Space as they build with large blocks on the floor or push a pram through a confined space.
- Size as they dress a variety of dolls and teddy bears.
- Order and pattern as they thread beads of different sizes, shapes and colours.
- Number as they help lay the table in the house corner for dinner.
- Relationships as they pretend to cook and place the correct lids on saucepans.
Rhymes, stories, songs, seasonal events, birthdays, routines, such as tidying away toys and equipment and incidental occurrences in the course of the day also help children to develop mathematical concepts.
The World Around Us
Children often ask questions; they are naturally curious about their environment and the people around them. Children like to feel comfortable and at ease wherever they are. They settle in as they begin to establish relationships with adults and other children, and as they become familiar with their environment. As they learn to talk with adults on a one-to-one basis or in group situations, children acquire more knowledge of the world around them and some understanding of it and children will develop skill and concepts in Science and Technology.
While the concept of time is difficult for children to understand, activities such as daily routines, listening to ‘once upon a time’ stories, talking about various festivals and other special occasions should help them develop an awareness of time.
To help them develop knowledge and understanding of the environment, children should have opportunities, individually or in groups to learn about themselves and how things work.
Successful play takes play when children have opportunities:
- Observe and explore, for example, in water play when they explore the properties of water and observe how different objects behave in water.
- Use their senses, for example, in sand play when they feel the texture of dry and damp sand and make comparisons or when they identify sounds such as the telephone ringing, blocks falling and birds singing.
- Explore, for example, in creative/aesthetic play when they work with malleable materials such as dough and clay, becoming aware of how these materials behave when poked, rolled, squashed and pulled.
- Observe and respect living things, handling them with care and sensitivity, for example, be helping to attend to plants and helping to keep the nature/interest table fresh and attractive.
- Make models, for example, in construction play when they assemble, rearrange and build with a variety of sizes and shapes of blocks and other materials, observing that carefully stacked blocks are less likely to fall than those that are stacked haphazardly and that a broad surface of blocks gives a better base for building.
- Put things together in a variety of ways, for example, in creative or constructive play when they make models with materials, both natural and man-made, sticking, cutting, folding and on occasions, taking things apart
- Talk about topics which arise naturally from the children’s own experiences, for example, holidays, festive seasons and birthdays.
- Talk about the weather and the seasons at appropriate times during the year.
- Talk about themselves, for example, where they live, the members of their extended family and events in their lives both past and present.
- Listen to stories and rhymes which have some reference to the past.
- Use their senses to explore the immediate inside and outside environment.
- Play with simple floor maps and small vehicles, discussing road safety when appropriate.
- Learn about their pre-school setting, for example, the name of the setting and the people who work in it, the names, function and position of different rooms, and the name of the school to which they will transfer.
- Play with materials associated with different places and occupations, such as the seaside, the farm, the fire station and talk about related ideas with adults.
- Talk about the work of some of the people in the local community, for example, the shopkeeper and the dentist.
- Take some responsibility for caring for their own environment, and becoming aware of environmental issues such as litter, road safety and the use of paper and bottle banks.