“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” –Fred Rogers
The work of toddlers (18-36 month olds) is developing autonomy. These kids are into everything, giddy with locomotion and the independence it brings. They learn to do things by themselves and play not just to find out how objects feel in their hands or mouths, but to figure out what can be done with them.
They’re stubborn about ME, MY, MINE. They love the word NO, because they’re learning to make decisions all by themselves. Watch them build up, knock down, put in, take out. They are easily excited, easily frustrated, very active, and have a short attention span. They pretend, they imitate, they are learning to express themselves with language.
In other words, they become quite interesting as human beings, at the same time as parents and other care providers might be panting to keep up and dreading the many perils of their existence!
In all of this autonomy centered play, there is serious brain and body growth occurring. This play is vital to a child’s brain and body development. Creating new neural pathways, integration of previous learning, branching out of cells, tissues, organs, systems — all these functions are occurring rapidly.
Creating a mini academic program for kids in their twos, threes, and fours is far less ideal than placing them in a social environment with interaction, guided play and free play, and plenty of physical activity. Kids receive much more benefit from following their own fascinations than in being exposed to automated information with worksheets, drills, and technology.
Play and encouragement to discover more in a chosen direction (for example, we have a kid who is fascinated by bugs) is the way to create a lifelong love of learning for kids. Serious learning is fun! Fun runs through serious learning.
We’re excited to introduce our Little Big Kids (2 – 4) to an experiment in seed germinating tomorrow. Video to come!