Teachers observe, ask questions, and listen to children’s ideas during these activities — “correct” answers are not the goal. To nurture their curiosity and motivation to learn, teachers use children’s interests and ideas to create activities. And even a simple, chance event – such as a child’s discovery of a snail in the outdoor play area — can be turned into an exciting opportunity to learn.
Preschool-age children have active imaginations and learn through make-believe play. Teachers know that the line between reality and fantasy is often not clear to a young child. Sometimes this results in fears of monsters under the bed. But imagination also fuels learning. For example, when a group of children creates a make-believe pet store, they will practice many social and cognitive skills as they assign roles to each child, figure out categories of pet supplies and how to organize them, make signs to label products; help their “customers” select the right shampoo or cat toy; and take “money” for merchandize.
The imaginary play area in a high-quality preschool is well-stocked with costumes, “props,” and child-size household items such as stoves, sinks and cupboards. It’s often in this activity area that preschool-age children progress steadily from solitary play, to one-on-one play, to complicated group play.
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