The first three years of childhood are consumed with exploration and experimentation. In fact, Jean Piaget, one of the most influential developmental psychologists of the 20th century, described young children as “natural scientists,” referring to how toddlers examine their surroundings to understand the world around them. Given this innate curiosity, children need safe spaces for exploration. They also need stimulating environments that foster early learning and development. The Primrose Schools® exclusive Balanced Learning® curriculum is designed to provide high-quality educational experiences to support a child’s social-emotional, intellectual, creative and physical development.
It includes a balance of purposeful play and nurturing guidance. Children have the flexibility to experiment and apply lessons and concepts on their own; while teachers guide children and ask questions to encourage curiosity, problem-solving, creativity and confidence.
“Encouraging a child’s natural tendency to learn through play and exploration allows him to investigate topics that interest him and develop his creative muscle,” says Gloria Julius, Ed.D. vice president of education and professional development at Primrose Schools. “You are witnessing imagination in action when you observe a child playing with a toy or even the box that the toy came in.”
Primrose offers the following tips to help facilitate your child’s natural tendency to explore:
- Follow your child’s lead. Allow children to explore a new toy before giving directions or demonstrating how it’s supposed to work. For example, if your child decides that a yellow building block makes great dinosaur food, that’s okay! There isn’t a right or wrong way to play and learn.
- Create an environment for learning. Stimulate your child’s imagination by setting the stage for independent exploration. Identify your child’s interests and create a safe setting where she is free to explore. For example, if your child is fascinated by nature, visit family-friendly parks and nature centers and let her lead the way for the day. If you have younger children, you might allow them to explore new spaces within your home with close supervision.
- Tell stories. Storytelling is a wonderful way to expand a child’s imagination. Encourage your little one to make up a story about a pet or best friend. Start with a favorite book, and see if he can imagine substituting someone he knows as the main character. Take that character on a different adventure and try to imagine another ending for the story. This is a great way to break down boundaries that suggest things have to be done a certain way.
- Explore an idea. The next time your child has an idea or question, turn the conversation into an investigation of ideas. For example, if she asks, “Where do lions live?” say, “I’m not sure. Let’s find out.” Whether you find a book about lions or search for more information online, you are likely to discover far more about lions than where they live. Researching an area of interest your child has is another form of exploration that shows her the world is full of possibility while demonstrating the value of reading at the same time.
Young children are constantly discovering the world around them. By purposefully fostering their sense of wonder and exploration, adults can help extend their learning even further and nurture creativity.
To learn more about Primrose School of Berkeley Heights, visit primroseberkeleyheights.com or call 908.286.0900 to schedule a tour.
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