Unlike older children, early years children are unable to learn through abstract or passive methods. Young children learn best through direct hands-on experience. The need to actively explore and manipulate materials and toys; discovering answers, properties, relationships, skills and concepts for themselves. Environments need to deliver knowledge and experiences relevant to a child’s personal knowledge and maturation level. Often this is referred to as age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate curriculum, an approach that meets educational goals based on research on how young children learn best.
Some researchers and policymakers tell us, “Play is the work of childhood”. It is a child’s very personal way of interacting with their world and learning to master the possibilities in it. The Early Years Learning Framework is much more than meets the eye; it’s the very serious endeavour of starting a life-long path of learning, and having a little fun along the way!
It looks like play but it meets academic goals:
- Block building – Mathematical goals (spatial concepts, problem-solving, balance and weights, cooperation)
- Stringing beads – Mathematical goals (correspondence counting, patterns, sequencing); Literacy goals (visual motor coordination, left to right concepts)
- Finger plays and rhymes – Literacy goals (auditory discrimination, phonetic skills, auditory memory, concept comprehension, visual motor coordination, vocabulary development)
- Concentration game – Literacy goals (visual discrimination, symbolic decoding, visual memory, concept development; Mathematical goals (matching and classification)
- Drawing and painting – Literacy goals (symbolic representation, visual memory, visual motor coordination, creative expression)