“Play is the highest form of research.” — Albert Einstein
Marli Marli Early Learning Centre, has an empahasis on natural play based learning, we try our best to provide stimulating play opportunities for our children using resources that are donated, found or brought from recycled yards or charity such a the salvation army warehouse. From our experience the children really enjoy a hands on approach and find multiple ways to use these items, for example one child may build a tower with them, one child may make a pattern with them or one might like to collect the items in a basket and carry them around the garden. Every child is different and we enjoy watching the creative ways in which they construct an idea. This is play at his highest form. When children are given an opportunity and fostered to make their own meaning.
Cognitive research has shown the important connection between early childhood experiences and intellectual development. The most important time for a brain is when it is young and growing. Humans are born with 100 billion brain neurons, which make connections through synapses that “wire” the brain for thinking. Early childhood experiences affect the types and amounts of these synaptic connections. To develop the area of the brain responsible for higher-order thinking, children need to have rich experiences that stimulate all of their senses. For a child, play is a critical path to those experiences that engage their senses and provide the foundation for future learning.
Here is some ideas on setting up natural play based learning:
Neutral is necessary: Natural colours and furniture allow for the child’s learning to stand out.
Organisation is optimal: An area must be purposeful and functional. Ask yourself. Are the areas set up so the children can see the purpose of it?
Defined spaces are desirable: Allow space for quality interactions and room for documentation of what is happening here.
Provocations are of paramount: Provide materials that relate to the interest. Make it simple but irresistible.
Beautiful is best: Use open ended materials that the children can demonstrate their own learning, style strengths, imagination and theories of the world.