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As someone who has spent over fifteen years as a preschool teacher and program coordinator at our Learning Center, balancing the realms of the classroom and home life has been quite the adventure. And oh, did I mention I'm also a mom to an almost-four-year-old whirlwind of joy?
Teaching a lively bunch of three to five-year-olds is no small feat, but let me tell you, being a mom to a preschooler at home? That's a whole different ball game. I can personally relate to the questions I get from my students' parents. Questions like:
How do I keep them busy on the weekends?
How can I lure them away from the screen and tablets?
How can I make learning fun at home?
Why do they seem uninterested in the activities or books I provide?
These questions sparked meaningful conversations, and parents often shared their struggles:
"I buy them toys, but they don’t play with them the 'right' way."
"Projects end up as messy disasters."
"They don’t follow instructions."
So, what's "the right way" to play with a toy? In my book, if it's safe and not destructive, let their young minds roam free. Exploring toys in unique ways is how they learn and expand their creativity.
The Art of Making a Mess
Let's talk about mess – a concept that most preschoolers hold dear to their hearts. Creative expression often involves a bit of chaos, especially when it comes to anything art-related. Mess is synonymous with exploration, creation, and, most importantly, ownership of their masterpiece. Who are we to dictate how they should create?
As a seasoned educator, I've had numerous lesson plans take unexpected turns, and you know what? Those were often the best days. The days when:
The atmosphere was light and easy.
Behavioral challenges took a back seat.
Laughter echoed through the classroom.
Most importantly, it was FUN!
Letting Go and Embracing Exploration
When children are given the freedom to explore and let their imaginations run wild, something magical happens. They become not just engaged, but excited and involved. As I discovered in the classroom, and later at home with my own daughter, allowing this free play enhances independence and fosters natural learning.
Children don’t need formal lessons or structured activities to learn – they just need the space to explore and play. The best part? They don't even realize they're learning; they think they're just having fun with their favorite teacher or parent in a "game they got to choose."
So let's embrace the mess, encourage exploration, and let the laughter of uninhibited creativity fill our homes and classrooms. Because in the world of preschoolers, a little mess is a masterpiece in the making.