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The child has one intuitive aim: self development

Preschool Education

Preschool Education

By Dr.Pratibha Jain

( Scholar in Child Development, PhD in Child Development , Delhi University )

International Education Consultant

The role that pre-school's play in a child's development" for special supplement on pre-schools.

Jean Piaget, a  Swiss Psychologist of the early twentieth century , pioneered the concept of

Schema or the four stages in the development of a child from birth to adulthood. He was the

first to prove  a positive  correlation of   a   stimulating environment   in early childhood with

the cognitive,  social, intellectual  and motor development of the child which had a long term

impact on an entire lifespan .  Piaget’s theory emphasized the importance of structured play

designed to stimulate varied senses of the child . Till date, this is largely  the basis for the

curriculum and pedagogy of  Preschools all over the world. A conscious and informed design

of activities with an eye on learning outcomes differentiates a Preschool from a Crèche ( which

is just for care-giving in the absence of the parent).

Scientific evidence supports the theory that while learning capabilities of humans continue for

most of  their lives , the  impact of experiences in the early years of life is the greatest .  With

this in mind, Preschools are gaining importance as they provide  a consortium of planned and

informed   activities   which contribute to the  intellectual, social and emotional development ,

laying  the foundation for later school success.

The two stages of Piaget’s Schema which influence and shape Preschool activities are:

The Sensori-motor stage which ranges form   0-2 years. During this time children learn the most

through a series of tactile experiences, ie more physical, hands-on activities , imitation and

repetitive actions .Touch and feel are important. Most Preschools achieve this by playing

with all kinds of clay , moldable materials, making simple crafts . Games like hopping, skipping,

jumping, catching, walking along a line develop motor coordination. Letting the children do

what they want within a broad structured format encourages individuality . Toddlers enjoy

playing with dough because they can get hands and fingers in it for poking, rolling, and shaping.

This develops thinking , reasoning and creativity. The natural world of plants , animals and

simple activities like washing, cooking, cleaning the room are used to stimulate curiosity and

a questioning attitude .

Multi-faceted play becomes important for cognitive and emotional development . Group

play helps children learn relationships, social, pro-social skills, developing values of sharing

and caring for each other . Functional play develops motor and practice skills. Water and sand

are universal favorites as valuable teaching tools. Constructive play is characterized by building

or creating something. Toys that encourage this type of play are simple puzzles, building blocks,

easy craft activities, and puppets.

The Preoperational stage which extends from 2-7 years is most critical for language

development and recognizing symbolic form like those used in mathematics . Story telling,

nursery rhymes, music and dance are used creatively as stimuli for cognitive development .

Pretend play allows children to express themselves and events in their lives. Role play especially

with doll houses , puppets, toy cars, simulated themes helps children process emotions .

Expressing thoughts develops language and imagination. This is the precursor to all other

skills which are a part of formal education .

Preschool years of 18 months to 5 years biologically coincide with high separation anxiety.

Hence, the child’s separation from the parent must be handled with extreme sensitivity. An

environment which allows the parents to be a part of the activities and gradually introduces

separation for short durations is ideal, as it makes the weaning process stress free for both

mother and child.

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