During a recent parent information session hosted by Elementary Principal and Associate Principal Mrs. Heather Nicholson and Miss Tamara Warner, families had the opportunity to learn about the power of play. Welcomed into class, parents were encouraged to sit in and observe their children in action. After observing the different classrooms, the parents gathered into small groups with Mrs. Nicholson, Miss Warner, Ms. Pallister, and Ms. Kozol to share what they saw, heard, and wondered. Here is what our parents had to say.
As parents entered the classroom, they were immediately struck by the vibrant atmosphere of students fully engaged in play. All around the classrooms, in groups big and small, there was an abundance of talk, play, and interaction, as students shared toys and ideas with care. It was clear that the classroom was a hub of social learning where children were not only having fun but also developing essential social skills. Parents marvelled at the student's boundless imagination as they listened to them create scenarios, storylines, and adventures. What struck them the most was the degree of choice and independence the children had. Students could choose where they wanted to go, what activities they wanted to engage in, and how they wanted to spend their time. This freedom allows them to explore their interests and passions. All the while, students also communicate amongst themselves and express their thoughts, ideas, and feelings; they aren’t afraid to test and challenge each other's concepts. Parents listened in as students articulated their viewpoints and engaged in discussions, proving that play fosters not only creativity but also critical thinking and communication skills.
One profound aspect of the session was that it allowed parents to see life through the eyes of their children. Seeing the world through their eyes, parents are able to develop a deeper understanding of their child’s experiences and interests and, ultimately, their development and learning journey. This session also highlighted the significant role of play in preparing children for the later years of education. Teachers emphasize that play lays the foundation for essential skills, including writing and storytelling.
When children are given the freedom to explore and create in their early years, they develop the imagination and creativity needed to excel in academic pursuits later on.
Teachers in the Early Learning Centre reinforce the importance of "voice, choice, and ownership". They emphasize the need to give young learners a voice, allow them to make choices, and grant them ownership over their learning. These principles empower students to become active participants in their education and foster a sense of autonomy.
While watching their children play and explore, parents were naturally curious about some of the things they saw. Some wondered about what would happen if students were always stuck with the same activity. The teachers explained that they incorporate a variety of activities into the daily routine. For instance, some days are designated for friendship activities, where children team up with friends to work together in their chosen activities. Teachers also change up stations and offer different "must do" and "can do" activities to keep things fresh and exciting, taking a conscientious approach to combining and rotating activities to keep the learning experience dynamic. Children might engage in drawing with blocks one day and then play with the same blocks on the carpet the next. This approach ensures that children have the opportunity to explore different materials and experiences regularly.
Parents left with a profound understanding of the transformative power of play in early childhood education. By seeing the magic of imagination, communication, and choice, parents saw all the ways that play lays a solid foundation for their children's future success. It was a reminder that, in these early years, children are not just playing; they are actively learning and growing.