Most children entering school at this age engage in parallel play or independent play. This means they can play near others, but are the drivers of their own play experiences. In Nursery and Pre-K, we support the developmentally appropriate shift to collaborative play.
The demands of this type of play are high. You must listen to other’s ideas, communicate your own ideas, integrate those ideas together, and sometimes build consensus to ensure play can successfully continue. We provide both structured and unstructured play experiences for our students because they serve different needs.
Tools of the Mind
Through the use of the Tools of the Mind Program, we take a thematic approach to imaginative play.
Children are initially introduced to a different play area within a theme, such as community, camping or restaurant. Students are then asked to make a commitment to taking on a role within that area, with other friends, and sustain their play through interacting with each other and the materials. Both language arts and mathematics skills are embedded into these play experiences to ensure an integrated and holistic learning engagement throughout the day.
As children’s skills grow, they begin to not just declare their intentions, but they create play plans where they draw and write down their intentions in each thematic area. This context, where they are communicating for a specific purpose, drives their innate desire to experiment and successfully express themselves with the written word. The joy and fun are invaluable to the learning experience.
In closing, children must also have opportunities to choose their own play as well. And providing these times for unstructured, child-driven play allows each student to be fully in charge of themselves and their experiences. It’s something that is hard to provide your child at home with because we don’t just “go outside and play” anymore. If you have a chance, come over to our playground to visit, and you’ll see exactly what we mean.