One of the most common questions we get asked at The Homegrown Preschooler booth is what makes our curriculum, A Year of Playing Skillfully different from other curriculums on the market. During the very busy Midwest GHC, I seemed to get this question more than usual. I thought I would take a few moments and answer it here:
- A Year of Playing Skillfully (AYOPS) is a play-based program. Research shows that play is the best way to teach children in the early years. When given the chance to engage in open ended play, the brain is stirred and will flourish. Play helps children develop physically, emotionally, and cognitively. Play develops thinkers. Play develops problem solvers. Play is unpredictable and therefore children have to constantly change and adjust. This type of social and emotional development prepares them for later learning and life. Dr. Christopher Perrin refers to some of this in his inspiring video on play!
- AYOPS is a process-based program. Many preschool curriculums are filled with worksheets and expectations. Our curriculum is based on the process and not the product. A process based approach encourages children to take risks and offers opportunities for the learning to be extended throughout the day. In addition, a process based program results in children who are less likely to become frustrated and more likely to enjoy learning.
- AYOPS is a hands-on program. We know that research tells us that children need the chance to experience a concrete world before they can understand an abstract concept. For example, children need to touch, smell, taste, and hear a real apple before they can fully connect to a picture of an apple. I always say, it needs to be in the hand before it can be in the brain.
photo credit: Farmhouse Schoolhouse
- AYOPS is a sensory-rich program. ALL children need to engage in a sensory filled environment. They need to touch mud and slime and water. They need “heavy” work such as pushing and pulling, jumping and climbing. They need to take in sounds from music and the wind and books being read to them. When a child’s senses are properly engaged, the brain thrives. Some children might be hesitant to engage in sensory experiences, but with some encouragement most will eventually jump in and be glad they did.
- AYOPS is a developmental program. Using a developmental curriculum is so important in the early years. Just as not every child is ready to potty train at the same time, every child is not ready to cut, hold a pencil, count or read at the same time. Our goal with A Year of Playing Skillfully is to help you meet your child where they are and take them to the next level. You can use our curriculum with several different ages at one time because the children will approach the experience according to their developmental ability. For example, a three year-old might narrate a very simple story during a book writing activity while their six year-old brother might attempt to write their own story with inventive spelling. Both approaches are appropriate for the age and both children are learning and growing from the experience.