Here at Fort Mill Cooperative Preschool, we believe in the Reggio Emilia approach of teaching. This means that the children guide the learning in their classroom. By giving the children the voice to learn about their desired topics, they will be able to further engage in the learning because it’s something they are interested in.
Children learn through hands-on active play that uses all of their senses. By giving children authentic, real items in our class centers (i.e. a real cooking utensils and pots rather than a plastic version), it makes the play and learning more meaningful. The materials inside each classroom are powerful tools for learning. Isn’t it better to have a real version of something, rather than a primary colored version of that same item? It helps to bridge the gap between the classroom and the outside world.
Another benefit of our curriculum is that we use a lot of loose parts. What are loose parts? A loose part is any item that can be used in multiple different ways or have different purposes. It is open-ended. It allows the child to be creative in how it is used or what it represents. Pine cones, for example, can become vehicles in block center, an art tool to paint with, food in housekeeping or even be an actual pine cone to explore with a magnifying glass in the science center. The children are able to expand their learning by using real, open ended items.
“Open ended materials provide multiple uses and endless play. It enables children to be creative and express themselves in play, often using materials to explore and represent other things. There is no pressure to complete an “end product” or bound by limitations.” -Aussie Childcare Network
The children are encouraged to learn and play while exploring our many outdoor environments. Children learn about plants as they garden, how to empathize and care for animals through our observational micro farm, and play and explore in nature. We offer structured and unstructured play in our outdoor environment, just like we do in our classrooms. Unstructured outdoor play helps kids learn to take turns, share and develop other positive behavioral skills. While they invent and play games with friends, these interactions help improve communication, cooperation and organizational skills. Additionally, fresh air and free play reduce stress levels.
While many people assume that all children do all day is play, we 100% agree! Play is one of the main ways in which children learn and grow. It helps to build self value by giving a child a sense of their own abilities and to feel good about themselves. Play is very important to a child’s development and supports their learning journey too. Young children develop many skills through the power of play. Play helps to nurture intelligence and give a child a sense of adventure. Through this, they can learn necessary skills such as problem solving, working with others, sharing and much more!