We encourage families to ask questions about the experiences/activities we provide for the children, and the learning potential they provide. However, here is a brief overview of the learning potential of each area:

Blocks:

To develop concepts such as size, shape, volume, height, width, area, balance, construction and comparison. They learn about spatial relationships, maths concepts and problem solving and relate to the world around them…the buildings and geography and landmarks. They also strengthen their muscle control and physical co-ordination.

Painting, drawing, construction, clay and collage (the art area, or the visual arts):

These give your child an opportunity to develop creativity, express emotions, frustrations, images and stories through the use of different mediums. Whether the product is recognisable or not is not important, but the process is. These also develop skills with brushes, scissors, pencils and crayons – they are refining small muscle movements and developing the fine motor control they will need for writing.

Our creative activities are also very much child directed, so you won’t find all children coming home with the same completed craft or art work. Again this is an appropriate way to work with young children or to engage with their learning. Enabling children to find their own voice with creativity enables us to find out what they know and how they see the world, letting them come up with how they express their own ideas and theories that ensures that we cater to how they learn.

Howard Gardener, an educational specialist, identified that we all learn in very different ways – some by doing, some by listening, some think in logical ways, some through music and some through movement. Sometimes it’s a combination of these different learning styles. Our job as educators is to facilitate each child’s learning style to get the best out of them.

Small worlds:

This is another form of imaginary play and dolls houses, police stations, fire stations, hospitals etc would all fit into this category too.” Small world” is exactly what it sounds like – a miniature play scene with figures, objects, scenery and a sensory element to enrich play and stimulate imaginative, creative and language development. Children as young as 2 and a half can begin telling their own stories through scenes like these. Educators at Highmount Preschool will regularly create small worlds that reflect the children’s current interests, or that represent stories we have been reading. We love to watch how the children interact with these, the language they use and the way they engage with both the props and each other.

Books:

To develop imagination, familiarity with the written medium and an appreciation of literature. The process of learning to read and write begins as we talk and read to children. Awareness of print is an essential first step in learning to read and write.

Science and nature experiences and sustainability issues:

To develop a wider interest in and knowledge of the world around them. Our ultimate aim is to encourage children to be aware of their physical and natural world and to respect and care for it. Many of these experiences we provide will help sharpen children’s observation skills, understand life cycles, understand cause and effect and change processes and to develop logical thinking and the development of theories.

Puzzles:

To develop concentration and emerging maths skills such as sequencing, matching and classification as well as fine-motor (small muscle) and eye-hand coordination skills. Puzzles also help children to feel satisfaction in completing a task, and about returning equipment to appropriate places.

Games:

To develop matching, sequencing, concentration, memory, and other such cognitive (thinking, or intellectual) skills.

Sensory:

To explore and develop an awareness of the senses; touch, taste, sight, smell and hearing. Language is also encouraged through the description of these experiences.

Music and movement:

To develop the recognition of such elements as pitch, tempo, dynamics and rhythm. Also, helps to develop creative expression and confidence as well as a range of physical skills.

Home Corner / Dress-ups:

To develop new skills as they act out roles. They learn from one another as they interact in socio-dramatic play. This play provides the opportunity to develop and practice socially acceptable behaviours. Children learn to ask and answer questions and to work together to solve problems. They also get opportunities to re-enact real-life scenarios.

Outdoor play:

There is some powerful research that suggests the most important and special memories from our childhoods usually take place outside. Outdoor play also fosters the development of gross-motor (large muscle) skills and body control. Don’t forget, children have a lot of skills to develop and refine. Certain skills such as catching, kicking and throwing a ball, climbing, hopping and skipping are difficult. The outdoor play environment also provides a vast array of opportunities that provide similar opportunities to many indoor experiences, but with an emphasis on contact with nature, gross motor skills, physical challenges, social interaction and imagination.

Building Site:

This important area of our outdoor play space provides an assortment of basic building materials which children move, arrange, stack, balance and problem-solve alone or with others. We also have a “Workshop” where the children can engage in tool work – woodwork and tinkering.

Play dough:

To develop muscles in the hand and arm and manipulative skills similar to those needed when learning to write. It also encourages tactile exploration and opportunities for creativity.

Cooking:

This provides maths opportunities such as measuring, comparing, recalling and predicting the outcome, as well as being adventurous and tasting new things. Cooking experiences also give us the opportunity to reinforce healthy eating messages. There is also a pre-literacy aspect to cooking when a written or symbolic recipe is used.