The playground as a teacher

 

I believe the environment is an important part of teaching as it invites children to play and, seeds imaginative and curious play from a sense of wonder and fascination.

Having a variety of experiences and resources available in a preschool environment encourages children to put their own ideas into inanimate and open ended objects.

Having set ups that are colourful, make sound, are touch sensory or require and enable movement not only engage problem solving and creativity thinking, but also lead children to share ideas with their friends as they work alongside and cooperatively with each other. Often putting out an activity for pre schoolers has the best learning outcomes when the children do something completely different with the materials, for example the tree stump put in the sandpit to act as a table for the fairy’s tea party quickly becomes a volcano with roaring dinosaurs or a launch pad for super heroes to jump from, follow their lead they are learning.

By providing an environment with open ended resources such as  jumping challenge courses to share with friends, encouraging them to take responsibility for their own learning and behaviour as they step gingerly from lilly pad to crocodile across the playground. By selecting teaching approaches, resources, technologies and learning and assessment activities that are inclusive and effective for diverse children such as unstable surfaces that have hand supports for all abilities and levels of confidence. Wobbly bridges or large flat stepping stones in the sandpit can be ideal for practicing balance and confidence boosting.

The environment and invitations to play in it are an important part of supporting and developing children’s physical and social competency. Through their developing language, relationships and knowledge of their world they laugh, demonstrate, lead and share what they find and how and why they might use it. “Watch me!”, what’s that?”, “follow me”, “can I play too?” should be heard in the playground every day.

I have hung triangles or pots and pans from trees and placed drums in clusters along walk ways just observe that no child (and some adults too) can’t resist playing at least a few beats as they pass which leads to others trying it out and creating their own play/ learning. Invitations to play support curious minds, encourage participation and lead to social learning opportunities.

Learning comes from doing and at preschool this happens mostly in social moments where the children are free to develop their own ideas about what they are experiencing and then sharing those ideas with their friends and teachers. Set the scene for the senses and let the children play.

 

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