We learn throughout our lives. However, developmentally, each experience in a young person’s life is a learning moment. Numerous neural connections are being made at each moment and as the brain grows, young people are primed for learning. Therefore there are numerous advantages for children who participate in an early childhood learning setting. Time with peers allows children to be present in the lives of other children and children begin to learn how to listen, share, and develop friendships. Language is also developed in a social context and children’s communication skills are enhanced by listening and speaking to others. These opportunities to develop social skills and to use language are presented in learning activities to stimulate curiosity, which translates into moments of personal discovery, collaborative exploration and the construction of understanding how the world operates.
To stimulate this learning journey activities are designed around play. Play-based learning keeps children engaged and connected to the experience and allows young people multiple ways to observe the world around them. For example, simple wood blocks help develop logic, computational skills, and scientific knowledge on volume and weight and physical movement, guided walks in a green space, allow for increased gross motor coordination and observation of the natural world.
When children can interact in a learning center with other children and caring and nurturing adults, they begin to understand differences and recognize they are special and everyone else possesses unique traits as well. Children learn about themselves and begin to see themselves as learners and recognize the importance of asking questions, wondering about things and experimenting through trial and error. Early years learning experiences develop a sense of belonging, of taking risks and ultimately helps strengthen personal confidence. Numerous recent studies demonstrate that early learning experiences are crucial to social, emotional and cognitive development and these experiences are connected to an augmented personal and academic trajectory.