The general consensus is that most children have a shorter attention span than most. The younger they are, the more likely they would not be able to concentrate on a specific thing for too long. This is due to kids being more interested in movements and actions rather than just reading and not understanding why we read. It is the main reason why we tend to read stories to them as compared to them reading them on their own. They are more reactive to that.
To this extent, we are firm believers in letting children learn through the art of playing. Rather than simply having them study new skills in a class teaching environment, in Ilham Child Care Centre, we instead introduced a different kind of curriculum.
While normally called Play Time, we instead discovered that by manipulating the toys that are provided to the kids during their free playtime, it helps them develop their fine motor skills and coordination. It is a subtle way to ensure the kids are not only interested, but they continue to learn and grow themselves even in their free time. With the freedom to not only explore but use their imaginations to create something that interests them, this would consistently provide them with learning to overcome problems in their futures.
That is not to say only in the centres where they could learn this. Even at home, in the comfort of their parents, manipulating them with toys would ensure they keep learning for their future. Toys like Lego blocks, connectors, building blocks and ice cream sticks would finely develop their skills and coordination, together with a problem-solving mentality that would keep assisting them.
Another practice our teachers have implemented is the music and movement lessons, where they will be able to teach the kids about animals and their sounds. This, sometimes together with the speech and drama lessons we conduct as part of our free enrichment program in Ilham, provides a more simplistic approach to keep the attention of the children. While they learn various sounds of the world through music lessons and speech, the movement lessons indicate how to differentiate from one animal to another.
Even the speech and drama lessons are done for a specific reason. Enhancing the communication skills for the children to interact with one another, it grows their own confidence as well as being able to act in front of other children to promote a more positive version of themselves.
A more hands-on activity we do here in Ilham Child Care is the Science Experiments and Cookery lessons, both of which are conducted in a safe way.
For our science experiments, we do a simple thing such as seeing if an item would be able to float or sink in water, which is not dangerous at all! It would test the kids on whether they realize what things are floating and pique their curiosity no doubt.
In our cookery lessons, our teachers will teach them the basic cooking skills, though they are fully prepared to keep an eye on the children as they do so. Such lessons would not only strengthen their fine motor skills, as they need to prepare the ingredients to cook, but they would have to take taste tests at times, finding out what is sweet, salty or sour!
These activities not only keep their attention as it is hands-on but will heighten their communications skills as they would have to interact with both their peers and teachers! Not only would naturally have questions for our teachers while doing the activities, but they would have to explain to them what they have created! It is a fun way that would make each child eventually come to terms with what they would like to do in the future as well, a simple test showing what they are attuned to!
Of course, most of these activities are indoors, yet we do have some outdoor activities conducted under the supervision of our teachers. We have always believed that would provide them with a little bit more fun sometimes to be outdoors, where no doubt they enjoy doing things such as going to playgrounds. So we devised activities like obstacle courses and soccer clinics where they are able to run around and break a sweat! It would expend their energies and encourage them to be more active in their future.
Each activity and class are meant to provide them with learning something new in the future. Keeping their interest in a specific thing is difficult, but here, we learnt to keep the kids interested is to constantly have them ask questions about the things we do. The parents play an important part in this, as most kids would explain anything that happens to them to the parents and if parents were to play along, it would encourage them to be sociable in their future!
While at first using the Learning to Play method might sound counterintuitive, surely this would provide the future generations with a more stable future, wouldn’t you say?