Everyday our students play in center time and love it! Center time is an important part of our day; however, many parents either don’t know what centers are or simply see it as play time. So what are centers, and why are they so important?
The dramatic play (or home center as our students call it) is an important part of a child’s social, emotional, and cognitive development. Many parents see dramatic play as dress up time. However, it teaches children many things including:
The dramatic play center is used for so much more than dress up. In the dramatic play center, children use their imaginations, act out things in their everyday lives, and learn to play together.
The writing center is the one center that most parents seem to question the most. “Why do the kids need a writing center? They can’t really write yet, it’s just scribbles.” Practice makes perfect. While children in preschool don’t yet know how to “write” they must start somewhere. The writing center helps children with fine motor skills and pencil grip. As well as using their imaginations to create their writings.
In the writing center, children get to practice their writing with different tools such as crayons, pencils, colored pencils, markers, etc. By encouraging children to write, even if it is just scribbles, teachers are setting that child up to succeed.
The sensory table is a favorite among the kids. Parents love them! They like that sensory tables are so tactile. While yes, they are very tactile, sensory tables are for more than just touch.
In the sensory table, children should be using 4 out of their 5 senses. (But let’s face it sometimes the kids like to try and sneak taste in there too!) A sensory table should excite children by its sight (colorful, unusual objects, etc.). Children will notice the different smells and hear the items as they fall into the bin. Sensory play provides an opportunity for every child to flourish.
The reading center is an important area in every classroom. Children should always have access to a variety of books! While children at this age cannot read just yet, they enjoy making stories to match the pictures and “reading” to their friends.
Having access to books encourages language development and stimulates children’s imagination and thinking skills. Ask any teacher and they will tell you children can never read too many books!
Finally, we have the manipulatives. At our school, you will see different items put out at the tables each day. Manipulatives help teach children a variety of things from pinch grip to patterns to basic math.
The children love the variety of the different toys. They just think they are playing when they are learning.
“Play is the highest form of research” –Albert Einstein. Children don’t learn from only the traditional methods. Children are learning when they play.