“If we want to invest in the prosperity of our nation, we must invest in the education of our children so that their talents may be fully employed.”
– Bill Clinton, 42nd President
We are well into the new year and are having a blast learning and growing each day at The Children’s Center. Thank you to everyone who participated in our Super Bowl Showdown Challenge! We raised a total of $2,695 for environmental education programs at the Children’s Center and had a whole lot of fun doing it. Congratulations to our Mixx on Main gift card winner and friend of the Children’s Center Mr. Thomas Hogg!
This month we begin a series focused on understanding the South Carolina Early Learning Standards. These standards are the building blocks for the Children’s Center’s curriculum and has contributed to our 98.6% Kindergarten readiness standard. The goal of this series is to provide some practical ways parents can assist their children in hitting the appropriate developmental milestones for their child’s age range.
Approaches to Play
It can be easy as a parent or caregiver to view play as a low priority or unnecessary aspect of life for young children, but the truth is quite the opposite. Play is a critical part of brain and body development for children. Why is play such an important part of childhood development? A video from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University may help explain how play can foster supportive relationships, strengthen core life skills, and reduce stressors for children. Let’s take a look!
The South Carolina Department of Education has included approaches to play in their developmental milestones for preschoolers. The state standards describe play as a natural inclination children have to explore the world around them using their senses of taste, smell, sight, touch, and sound. So, how do we encourage this beautiful aspect of human development for the children in our care? Here are some ways the SC Department of Education gives that parents and caregivers can implement to encourage play:
Infants (Birth – 12 months):
At this age, children are absorbing so much of the world around them through their five senses, particularly taste (we know babies love to put items in their mouths)! A good way to encourage this is to provide a safe environment in which to play and toys that are safe to chew, throw, and bang. Taking infants on walks or to sit in the grass are wonderful ways of encouraging exploration. Showing excitement about new activities and remaining close by will help baby feel safe to explore. Singing songs, reading colorful and simple books, cooing, and talking to babies are all wonderful ways to stimulate and engage baby’s mind and to encourage play at this stage.
Younger Toddlers (8 – 21 months):
At this age children are learning to crawl, walk, and run. Play will become much more mobile! Adding in more complex ways to engage their senses is a great idea at this age. For example, painting, coloring and drawing, and playing outside are great ways to stimulate development in young toddlers. Offering toys that are slightly challenging will also help build those neural pathways and encourage brain development.
Older Toddlers (18 – 36 months):
At this stage, independence is becoming more and more important. Older toddlers are going to want to imitate some of the everyday activities they see you doing such as brushing your hair, applying makeup, eating on their own, and helping with household chores. Letting your older toddler make choices as much as possible is a great way to encourage this new found independence. For example, setting out a couple options for clothing for the day or having them choose and help you prepare a simple meal with plastic utensils can help foster both mental and motor skill development.
Younger Preschoolers (36 – 48 months):
Encouraging lots of imaginative play is very important for this age group! Clothing items that will allow children to play dress up, lots of outdoor activity and/or joining a sports team, play with musical instruments, and teaching new vocabulary through play are all wonderful ways to encourage development in young preschoolers.
Older Preschoolers (48 – 60 months):
This age group is ready to master some new skills such as writing their name, riding a bike, and even interpersonal skills such as sharing with others. Teaching children to play cooperatively is an important social skill for children to learn as older preschoolers. Communicating wants and needs should also be encouraged for this age group. A lot of children’s Socio emotional development is becoming solidified in this age group. Increasing the complexity of play is also important to continue stimulating brain development. Look for ways to include more challenging books, outdoor activities, and group activities.
To learn more about the South Carolina Early Education Standards click here.
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