It Looks Like I’m Playing, But…
Executive Function, which includes social skills, self regulation skills, and impulse control, develops rapidly between the ages of 3-7. research shows that these skills are a better predictor of future success than any academic learning in preschool. Therefore, the focus of preschool should be on teaching these skills more so than on pre-academic skills. Below are some ways that these essential skills along with pre-academic skills, are developed in our classrooms through play.
Art: It looks like I’m playing, but I’m developing my creativity, fine motor skills, problem solving, sharing skills, cooperation, independence and responsibility. I may use these skills as an artist, illustrator, or designer one day.
Blocks: It looks like I’m playing, but I’m developing motor skills, math concepts (number, size, shape, space), oral language, social skills, eye-hand coordination, self control, and my imagination. I may be a builder or architect when I’m grown.
Books (looking at them or being read to): It looks like I’m playing, but I’m developing alphabet knowledge, oral language, print knowledge, listening skills, eye-hand coordination, concepts about the world, and the desire to read. Maybe I’ll be publisher, author, or librarian when I grown up,
Dramatic Play: It looks like I’m playing but, I ‘m developing social skills, emotional skills, independence, oral language, my imagination, responsibility, and executive function. I may use these skills as a mother, father, safety officer, or politician one day.
Gross Motor Play (playground, Motor Room); It looks like I’m playing but, I’m developing my gross motor skills, imagination, social skills, self regulation skills, eye hand coordination, self confidence, and a foundation for a healthy, active lifestyle. These skills are crucial for any future career.
Literacy Games/Activities: It looks like I’m playing, but I’m developing oral language, alphabet knowledge, print connections, phonological awareness, visual skills, book knowledge, phonics, and the motivation to read. No matter what I become when I grow up, it will be important to know how to read and write.
Math games or manipulative: It looks like I’m playing, but I’m developing oral language, social skills, fine motor skills, concepts about quantity, shape, size, pattern and interest in math. I may use these tools as a computer programmer, accountant, or mathematician in the future.
Play dough/other sensory materials: It looks like I’m playing, but I’m problem solving, developing social skills, creativity, vocabulary, math concepts, eye-hand coordination, and fine motor skills which are essential for when I begin to write. These skills are all so important for any career in my future.
Science Activities: It looks like I’m playing, but I’m developing curiosity about the world, developing my problem solving and language skills, and gaining experience with the scientific process (observing, predicting, experimenting, recording, reporting). If I’m a doctor, lab technician, pharmacist, or landscaper I will utilize these skills.
Songs/Cooperative Games: It looks like I’m playing, but I’m developing executive function skills because I have to move to a specific rhythm and synchronize words to actions and the music. These tasks contribute to inhibitory control and working memory, which are important no matter what career path I choose.
Table Toys/Manipulative: It looks like I’m playing, but I’m developing small muscles in my hands, eye-hand coordination, attention span, social skills, and concepts about size, shape, color, pattern. I might use these skills as a chef or dentist one day.
Writing: It looks like I’m playing, but I’m developing eye-hand coordination, fine motor skills, alphabet knowledge, self-confidence, vocabulary, and an interest in print. I might use these skills one day as a journalist, administrative assistant, or poet.
When your child tells you he/she played (for example, with blocks, dress up, or outside) at school today, you know that indeed, your child was having fun, but he/she was also busy developing skills which are crucial to future success.
Adapted from http://drjeanandfriends.blogspot.com/2015/06/it-looks-like-im-playing-but.html