25 Jul Why Yavneh ELC? By Charlene Orwin – Head of ELC
Joy is the foundation for teaching young children! To watch young learners take in the world around them with awe, admiration and with wonder, is truly a blessing to be a part of.
One of the greatest gifts of being an Early Childhood educator, is allowing children to learn so much through doing. Allowing children the opportunity to play and keep playing, all in the name of learning, is the best way for children to learn. The perfect paradigm for preschool – children painting at easels, playing dress-up, riding bikes, and digging for dinosaur fossils in a sandbox – should never be frowned upon as “a waste of time”. On the contrary, it opens up a world of growth and opportunities and sets the young mind up for success in it’s future learning. Big Picture objectives such as getting kids excited about learning, helping them build friendships, and promoting their wonder about the world around them, should not be eclipsed by skills such as reciting the alphabet, writing numbers, knowing letter sounds and doing 100 piece puzzles.
Don’t misunderstand me, learning all the necessary pre-reading, pre-writing and pre-numeracy skills are essential components of the pre-school curriculum and will most certainly set children up for success in formal education, but acquiring these skills through play-based learning is the best way to accomplish knowledge in these necessary areas of learning, whilst at the same time, allowing children to be children through their childhood years. Play-based learning gives children opportunities to be healthy, creative, independent-minded, and well-adjusted individuals who will one day grow up to be valuable contributors to society.
There are decades of research in child development and neuroscience that tells us that young children learn actively – they have to move in order to learn. They have to engage with all of their senses. They have to get their hands on things to manipulate, break apart, re-build and examine. They need to interact with others and they need to create, invent, explore and predict.
At Yavneh ELC, we embrace a play-based approach to learning and never lose sight of the end goal – to create opportunities for our children to grow and learn about their world (Being), how they fit into it (Belonging) and how they can be a part of it (Becoming). Our teachers have broad long-term goals : to promote enthusiastic life-long learners who can think for themselves, work well with others, use their imaginations and solve problems in creative ways. We acknowledge that the years spent in an ELC setting is a small window of time to develop at the pace which is right for each individual child and we use the children’s world to support them in navigating their way around the world at large.
It is through our play-based philosophy that we encourage the development of each child’s imagination, language development and vocabulary skills, support social connections and emotional well-being and support growth in math and spatial understanding. It is through shared play that we strengthen each child’s self-awareness and learn through shared expertise and expanded perspectives. We teach people skills and appropriate etiquette and we role-model empathy, conflict resolution skills and promote emotional intelligence. One of the greatest skills we thrive towards in our setting, is building resilience and personal empowerment through creating an environment that is flexible, balanced and provides developmentally appropriate education.
Like so many others in the field of early childhood education, I worry about the erosion of play in the lives of young children as technology takes up so much of their time. Sadly, pretending to be fire-fighters, chefs, doctors, teachers and nurses seems to be “old school” and in the world of many young people, these opportunities are lost. At Yavneh ELC, I – together with my full team of educators – will not lose sight on the importance of learning through play and we wholeheartedly understand that the benefits of attending our ELC is to set our children up with lifetime goals and not just goals for the year ahead.