A Foundation of Preschool Learning: Water, Sand, Clay, Paint, and Blocks
In a society of over-scheduled kids, the expectation of building your scholastic resume early, and so on, childrens’ play time can seem like a waste of time. What are they accomplishing? How will this add to their academic success? What are they learning? Turns out, they are learning a lot!
When you think about sand and water, education and skill development are not the first things that come to mind. Children benefit in a big way physically, emotionally, socially, and cognitively using water, sand, clay, paint, and blocks. These basic materials have characteristics that allow children to explore and enable them to intentionally manipulate which helps them build skills and sensory development.
Simple materials can provide important learning and development that they use as a foundation into adulthood.
• Water is a fascinating material for open-ended exploration, play, and learning. Children learn spatial awareness, self-regulation, turn-taking, problem solving, and theory testing.
• Sand is natural and readily available in a preschool setting or even at home. It creates strength development, it can be both calming and stimulating, and is a great tool for dramatic play.
• Clay is the medium that can be most beneficial to children who have difficulty expressing themselves or need help with hand-eye coordination. They are given the opportunity to be creative in a non-verbal non-threatening setting utilizing clay.
• Paint invites a child into a world of possibilities and unlimited exploration. Paint benefits a child with their fine and gross motor skills, self-expression, and development with color and shape recognition.
• Blocks are an important part of early childhood curriculum. They allow children to develop in all aspects of learning—cognitive, social, emotional and physical. Children learn how to build social skills, explore scientific discoveries, and learn how to problem solve.
I don’t think the kids will be clamoring, “Let’s go to the beach for some skill development” but parents can keep some things to themselves as we watch our children play and secretly know that they are benefiting from their play time.
The PJCC Preschool has adapted this curriculum from the Bing Institute at Stanford University. The PJCC Preschool staff has been through extensive training to learn how to implement this style of teaching.