I've mentioned before that we ascribe to a theory of "learning through play" here at chez 'And So I Sew'.
Put simply, this means that the girls are encouraged to make, create, explore and discover through open-ended play experiences.
That is, they are (largely) given toys or items that have no one set way of using them, but rather can be used in a multitude of ways based on the extent of the girls' imagination.
This is aside from those that encourage role play - such as their home corner with kitchen stove and the like.
I try to learn as much as I can about how to help the girls learn in a play-based way and came across this book at the library.
This book is an absolute winner as far as I am concerned.
In it the author explores the relationship between work, play and love for children as well as adults.
I knew it was my kind of book when early on I read this:
"Play, then, is the dominant and directing mode of learning during this age period (2-6 years), and children learn best through self-centred learning experiences.
We also don't push alpha-numeric learning - so no charts filled with numbers and letters.
That's not to say there are not puzzles with the alphabet on them and cards with characters to count - the older two girls are madly into all things letters and numbers and when they ask - their questions are always answered.
But we don't push it.
It's at their pace, self-directed.
I know I could have them doing basic math by now but that's not what we want for them, there's plenty of time ahead for that.
To again quote David Elkind's book "Certainly young children can learn letters and even sight-read a few words. But this is work and should make up only a small part of an overall hands-on, self-directed early childhood curriculum."
We are also very lucky to have the girls in a kindergarten that teaches according to Reggio Emilia principles - so it supports the type of learning we want for them.
(A Google search will bring up lots of references if you want to read more about this.)
Our older two girls will continue to go to kindergarten next year rather than starting school.
This was a decision we deliberated over and we decided that while they are certainly more than ready to start school next year, it's not just about now, it's about when they are 13 and 14 and 15 years old and could be up to 14 months younger than their peers.
If in a composite class where they are in the younger group, this age gap could stretch out as far as 3 years.
We felt that they were going to be better off in the long term being among the older children in the class (we have found that it is likely there will be a number of children who will be older than them anyway), rather than younger and maybe having to work a lot harder to keep up.
(Fabulous vintage swap cards mounted and framed for Miss G for her birthday by our friend Blogless Judy!)
This means I will have the pleasure of their company for three days a week next year as well as the 4 days they are home this year. For this reason I felt it was important to have space in the house where they could go to create what they want, when they want to.
So out went the old bookcase and a table that was really a dumping ground, and in came the new children's creating space.
I got the table and stools from Ikea, they are called Sansad and with a personal storage area under each stool where they can keep their treasure, the girls love them.
Under the magnetic board we got an Asker rail and three ceramic pots where the pencils,scissors, pens and crayons are stored. This is from Ikea's kitchen range, I pinched this idea from a friend.