Children are “little people with big emotions” and have not as yet discovered the words to describe how they feel. It is through play that they get the opportunity to explore and express and get to learn how to share and manage their emotions.
Evidence indicates that children involved with preschool enrichment programs have a better chance of growing into happy and healthy adults than those who are just academically able. Play also helps to build self-worth by giving a child a sense of her own abilities and to feel good about herself.
Remember, emotion drives attention and attention drives learning, whether children are at home or at a school. As play is fun, children are totally engrossed by it.
Parents have a key role to play
Participating in social skills activities improves the cognitive, physical, and emotional well-being of children and young people. Self-esteem has to do with how worthy feels about herself. This is very different from self-confidence, which has more to do with the ability to do something successfully.
Parents have a key role to play in their child’s social and emotional development. It is through child development and emotional learning skills, that parents can help their child understand what she is feeling and why. For example, if a child is sad because her doll’s leg is broken, respond with calmness and understanding. You could say, “let’s set it right.”
Toddlers and young children always watch how their parents express their emotions and instinctively begin to imitate them. So it makes good sense to be careful in the presence of little children and set examples of managing emotions in positive ways.
There is lots of research to show that spending time in activities to promote social development, exercising and doing creative and relaxing activities has a positive impact on a child’s wellbeing and mental health. For instance, it is advisable for children under 5 years old to be physically active for at least 120 minutes, spread over the entire day.
Exercise decreases worries and increases good sleep, improves focus and mood. It also helps children develop a positive view of themselves and boosts their self-esteem and confidence.
Structured group play
Babies and toddlers need to take part in early childhood development activities as it involves interacting with another child or an adult. Without this integral development, preschoolers will struggle to gain the essential skills needed for academic success, making and maintaining relationships, and ensuring healthy mental and physical development.
Examples of activities to promote social development abound, and allow toddlers and preschoolers to gain skills, such as sharing and taking turns. Throwing and catching a ball for instance, develops motor skills, play also aids in learning how to follow instructions, and playing a board game enhances patience and develops into the habit of waiting for her turn to come.
Try and stick to play activities your child is interested in. You will notice that your child has developed a liking to one or two activities and wants to play with only her favourite toys. Embrace what she likes as it improves the learning process.
Don’t try to spend too much time playing in the beginning. Start with activities that require short durations and gradually increase the time you spend playing with the child. Remember, it is important to choose to play when your child will be most eager and receptive, like the time after waking up from a nap or after she has had her food.
Involving your child in emotional learning skills is actually teaching her how to behave and to communicate effectively. She develops her vocabulary as you and the child are actively interacting with each other. Remember to use simple words, avoid complex sentences and speak softly. Keeping everything simple will help increase comprehension, become confident and learn in a constructive manner.
Stimulating your child’s imagination
For little children, preschool enrichment programs is about encouraging your child to explore her world in her own way. So set aside as much of free time as possible for creative play. On certain days your child will want to spend only a few minutes, while on other days, she will want to play all morning. Flow with her moods and schedules, don’t impose.
Here are a few activities that will involve your child and help spend time constructively. You can add more ideas by re-interpreting them as you move from one activity to another.
Peek-a-boo is a time tested all-rounder. It develops your child’s sensory awareness and teaches your child about eye contact. The game also improves coordination, motor skills, and is a superb way to get your child to have fun. As newborns are easily irritated and overwhelmed, play peek-a-boo only when your baby is well rested. If your child turns her head away after a few peek-a-boos, take a break. Get back to it later.
Reading aloud is a great way to involve your child in learning about stories, new words and characters. As a matter of fact, there’s nothing your child loves more than to hear your voice. The more you read to your child the more she’ll start to pick up on the rhythm, tone, and inflection, which will help her when she starts to read by herself. Reading also helps your child to figure out that words and sounds convey ideas and have their own meanings.
Drama & play acting
Collaboration is a tough social skill to learn, but you can help. Children are not used to working with others. That’s why it’s so essential to help children learn about imaginative play acting. It not only encourages self-awareness and understanding of social situations, but also gets across the message that your child has to act out a scenario with other children to make a scene work.
Playing with blocks
Playing with building blocks is perhaps the first time your child can work in a team. It is a great tool for developing the skill of cooperation and sharing. Building block games also provide your child with a certain amount of freedom and an opportunity to be creative.
This is a fun way to prepare children for social situations with other children. It gives you control over the social challenges and to prevent children from feeling overwhelmed. It also helps your child experience real-time situations and encourages your child to think about how others feel and respond to their behaviours.
About My Gym
If you are wanting to know more about the ideal preschool enrichment program with a clear focus on early child development in Singapore, then My Gym is the place for you. My Gym keeps enrichment classes for toddlers fresh, engaging and entertaining. Focusing on creating unique, fun to participate learning experiences that make learning through play that much more fun and that much more effective.