High-quality early childhood education integrates learning opportunities within children’s everyday interactions and activities. Through these experiences, they learn social-emotional skills, develop independence and build their physical abilities.
Here at Essential Resources, we provide early childhood educators with an array of resources about the processes of development and learning, and how these relate to one another. The guidance is both theoretical – understanding the stages of development – and practical - how to implement teaching practices that support early years language development. In other words, how to translate Theories into Practice.
Our resources for early childhood educators focus on specific areas of development – such as Supporting Children’s Social Development to cultivate social skills – as well as specific ages – What Does It Mean to Be Three?
Time to Move is a resource for early childhood educators, which promotes “children’s physical development in an informed, exciting and innovative way.” The resource says children should be given:
“Providing a movement-friendly environment,” as Jo Bland explains in Prime Time Physical, is the best way to support physical development because “children are naturally driven to do these significant movements at any time.” This can be as simple as having sufficient clear floor space or having a piece of wood for children to walk on to practice balancing.
Similarly, learning environments should have different-sized balls of various weights and textures for children to practice their ball skills.
Movement and dance are other great ways to promote physical development and teach children movement concepts. Bland’s activity of puppets, where children mimic a puppet, shows them how the different parts of the body move. Likewise, they can do a weather dance to represent the weather conditions.
The physical environment of early childhood education settings significantly affects a child’s development. As mentioned in one of our blogs, it is known as the “third teacher” because of its impact.
Firstly, the physical environment can enable positive relationships and effective communication. Open, easily-accessible spaces encourage interaction, inclusivity and engagement. Similarly, having different means for the children to communicate (like feeling thermometers) will help them express themselves.
Outdoor spaces also play a unique role in children’s development. As described in Dream, Design, Develop, “Playing, or simply being, outdoors in natural environments enhances wellbeing.” Additionally, the vitamin D children get from outside activities helps their bone and muscle health. Just do not forget the sun protection, please!
Lastly, the learning environment affects children’s physical development by giving them places to run, jump, balance and climb. These movements build strength and improve gross motor skills and proprioception.
Of course, play helps children’s social development!
Play provides children with opportunities to learn how to connect and interact with one another. When children listen, observe and share play experiences, they develop a range of social skills, such as how to:
As described in Supporting Children’s Social Development, “The best way forward in supporting children’s social development is to ensure that it is easy for a child to choose to join in shared enterprises, most of which should be initiated by children.”
In this early childhood teaching resource, pretend play is seen as an avenue for children to practice and fine-tune their social skills.