What is a Play School?
A Play School is simply a Preschool where children learn through child-led play. Another key term is “play-based learning”. A child-led, play-based preschool caters to the whole child. The idea of catering to the whole child means looking at all the ways your child is developing and growing and paying attention to all of them. We can’t focus on one area at the expense of the others. Currently there is a lot of emphasis placed on making sure children are ready for kindergarten. That focus, however, gets too concerned with the cognitive development and overlooks the importance of empowering and fostering independence and developing the whole child. When we focus on the whole child, all aspects of development are held in high regard and recognized as a valuable part of kindergarten readiness. Focusing on the whole child also gives children opportunities for practicing life-long skills, skills they will need long after their kindergarten days are over. My goal is to assist your child in creating a strong foundation for all future academics to rest upon, not just preparing them for Kindergarten. By paying attention to the whole child, I am giving your child ample opportunity to engineer the strongest, sturdiest foundation possible. This foundation is what ultimately leads to long-term school success. A strong foundation is not built upon rote learning, memorization, worksheets, flashcards and drills. A strong foundation is built upon relevant, meaningful and authentic experiences. Those kinds of experiences are found in child-led play in a well structured environment.
Will my child learn math and science through child-led play?
Play is loaded with opportunities for counting, comparing and contrasting, patterning, measuring and deciphering. Children are natural scientists. Anytime they discover something new, they will, if given the freedom of time, do it again…and again…and again. Just to see if the results are the same. Take a toddler for example. They are not dropping their cup of milk onto the floor just for fun. They are doing some serious work and testing of a theory. Will that cup drop all the way to the ground every single time they let go of it?
Will my child learn literacy skills through child-led play?
The very base for literacy skills is a simple love of books. Story time is a special time at Kaleidoscope Play School, and can sometimes happen several times throughout our time together. It all depends on the interest and leadership of the children. Children need real experiences to attach words to. This is why, at Kaleidoscope, we do REAL. That interest in words will grow, and soon, they will be asking how to “make” that word. From there the interest in letters will be born. A natural, meaningful progression. I incorporate “mystery words” into our time together. I pick out a word that is of interest to the children, I write that word on an index card and stick it on the wall. I then hide the letters that create that word, and patiently wait. The children are empowered when they find a letter, and even more so when they figure out where that letter goes as they copy the word on the card in order to re-build it. I refer to this as learning letters in their natural habitat. Letters are meant to be in words…not isolated on a meaningless flashcard.
Will my child learn how to write through child-led play?
I could go on and on about all the ways your child is preparing for writing as they play, but I will sum it up briefly for you. A child begins preparing for writing when they are an infant. When they are able to roll over, they are using their core muscles. Core muscles are…well, for lack of a better word, at the core of handwriting. Our bodies develop from the inside out. So, first the core muscles must be strong and coordinated, then the shoulders and back, then the biceps, then the forearms and then, and only then, can we expect a child to be strong and coordinated with a crayon in hand. Handwriting does NOT begin when we place a writing tool in a child’s hand. It begins at infancy. writing at Kaleidoscope looks like playing with the parachute, climbing up the slide, standing on our hands, pulling bags or boxes full of heavy pumpkins, playing with shaving cream, dumping and pouring, scooping and shoveling, painting, coloring, scribbling and yes…writing their names, as well as words of interest to them and lots and lots of pretend writing. All of these things lead to success in writing.
What kind of art experiences will my child have?
The art created at Kaleidoscope Play School is all about the process, not the product. The children will have access to a variety of art supplies every single day. If you want your child to bring home a perfect looking dog made out of a toilet paper roll, this may not be the program for you. However, if you want your child to freely explore different mediums and textures and create until their heart’s content, then this is the program for you. If you want your child to use her hands and body to manipulate different tools and observe the effect different movements have on color and the resulting piece of art, then this is the program for you. If you don’t mind that every single piece of artwork that comes home is swampy green in color, but you know your child had an amazing time during the creation of said swampy green art…then this is the place for you!
Will my child be messy?
YES! I promise they will. I also guarantee that this is a GOOD thing. Even though almost all materials used at Kaleidoscope Play School are washable, I can almost promise that your child will stain a clothing item here and there. Making a mess taps into children’s innate curiosity about the world around them and their strong desire to explore and find out more. Messy play is characterized by risk taking, trying things out and experimenting. Experiences like this strengthen a child’s interest in learning more and builds their confidence. I believe a messy child is an engaged child. Messy play is important to the development of the whole child and that is why it is supported at Kaleidoscope Play School. A messy child signifies a child that was so caught up in the task at hand, there was no time left to worry about the mess being made. Children often get lost in their imagination when engaged in messy play….imaginations are the root of solving problems. Imaginations are highly respected and valued here, therefore…bring on the messy play!
What other things will my child learn through child-led play?
Ownership is the key to a child-led, play-based program. It seems like such a simple thing, but honestly, it is the key. Just look at what ownership teaches young children: Children own their entire experience at Kaleidoscope Play School. They own trying new things, they own struggling, failing and the power of perseverance. They will own discoveries and, often times, the mistakes that come along the way. They will own the results of determination as they solve problems and work to find solutions. They will own teamwork and learn the value of collaboration. They will own asking for what they need. The children at Kaleidoscope Play School are encouraged to ask for what they need; whether they need tools, supplies or help, asking is encouraged. I will hold you and your child in the utmost regard. I want nothing but the best for all of the children who share their childhood years with me. That is why I insist on paying attention to the whole child, the whole package…not just certain parts. This can most successfully be accomplished with a child-led, play-based program like Kaleidoscope Play School.