The past few years have pushed us to reconsider and redefine how we deliver education. It has also pressed us to question what is most important for early childhood education.
A change we never expected
If someone had told us at the end of 2019 that we would be spending much of the following years in our homes, with most of our communication happening via Zoom, we probably would not have believed them. (We likely would have also asked what Zoom was!). And yet, following the global pandemic many students and teachers quickly adapted to remote learning – with all of the opportunities and challenges it brings.
Play is a child’s right
Redefining the early learning centre and what is at the centre of learning
When the first lockdown began, schools and preschools across Australia shifted their curriculums onto online platforms for students to access from home, often supported by parents simultaneously working full-time jobs.
The realities of the pandemic and lockdowns have pushed us to consider how rich learning opportunities can be encouraged in ANY early childhood setting – including the home. As parents (or teachers) it can be easy to think children need to be occupied with activities – from craft and sensory, to literacy and numeracy. While activities can be valuable and have their time and place, tightly structured academic activities are not practical for long periods of time for younger children – and neither is long bouts of screen time. So where does that leave early childhood education and remote learning?
Research has long demonstrated the equal if not paramount importance of open-ended play. Open-ended play is unstructured and without limitations, encouraging children to take the lead in their play, explorations and learning. In fact, play IS ‘the work of the child’ (Maria Montessori) – it is how they develop and learn.
Young children are natural scientists and engineers, they are explorative and creative – developing their understanding of their body, sense of self and the world around them. Open-ended play offers a meaningful and learning-rich alternative that not only suits both childcare centres and home-learning environments, but also supports the innate way children learn and develop.
Pressed to consider how we can provide learning experiences for children, both parents and childcare centres are seeking to offer high quality resources that encourage learning through play. When using open-ended resources like Connetix, regardless of whether children are at school or home, they can engage in play which will inevitably be rich in learning opportunities.
How Connetix support learning
The concept of open-ended play and open-ended resources like Connetix can be somewhat daunting at first, particularly when children are used to tightly structured schedules. Many parents believe they need to manage playtime in order to make sure that it is beneficial for their children. However, once children are supported through the early stages (i.e. model how to play with and use open-ended resources like Connetix], children will likely take the lead in their play and explorations. Which is what open-ended play is all about!
As an open-ended resource Connetix can be used in limitless ways and adapt to a wide range of abilities and interests – offering children a range of opportunities to be creative, inspire imaginations and explore their interests/ curiosities, engage in STEAM disciplines and skills, as well as navigate problem solving (e.g. overcoming their creations not turning out as expected), develop emotional resilience (e.g. rebuilding when their tower crashes), encourage fine and gross motor skills (manipulating the tiles, reaching as they build higher and higher), plus so much more. Connetix are a resource that will grow with a child – ensuring they will see years of love as children continue to engage in more complex ways as their skills develop.
So where does that leave us?
If the past few years have shown us the possibilities for a different model of education, regardless of whether learning is occurring in a childcare centre or being supported at home, open-ended play and quality resources can be a valued part of it.
Designed with a value for encouraging learning through play, and understanding how children develop, Connetix are a quality product that meet safety standards in all countries they are available. Made from non-toxic ABS plastic and riveted for extra safety, Connetix are built to last. Play with resources like Connetix has been proven to support a child’s cognitive, physical and emotional development.