Steam education

Is your toddler’s school teaching A for Apple or A for Future?

Art has the role in education of helping children become like themselves instead of more like everyone else.” Sydney Gurewitz Clemens

S.T.E.A.M.

When searching for a preschool for our toddler, we visited so many schools. Asking almost the same questions everywhere – what will you focus on for our kid’s early education and how will you deliver that. And getting almost the same answers – We will teach him to write A to Z and 1 to 50 in 1 year. Plus, every school had a detailed curriculum up to 10th standard focusing on all the required tenets of a great STEM education. But something was missing there and we were not satisfied.

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. This is all you need to secure a good job in today’s world. And then, Steve Wozniak asked a very apt question during his recent visit to India filling in the missing piece – Success in India is based on studying, having a job…where’s the creativity?

STEAM modifies STEM – science, technology, engineering, and math– by adding art, a crucial part of a well-rounded curriculum, and it’s the hottest trend in education right now.

B to Z is history – A is the new king

Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” Albert Einstein

In a very interesting article titled “The Right Brain Develops First ~ Why Play is the Foundation for Academic Learning“, Vince Gowmon emphasises that our right brain develops first. And it does so by the time children are 3-4 years of age. The left brain, on the other hand, doesn’t fully come online until children are approximately seven years old; hence the first seven years being recognized as such a critical period in child development.

Art and design are a critical component of how kids will solve the problems of the future. STEAM keeps the focus on important science and technology skills while also drawing out the creativity inside every child. Why do we need to learn fast maths when Google Glasses can do that for you in front of your eyes just by saying that aloud? Why do we need to remember anything when all the information is literally available to us at our fingertips?

What we do need is what to make of that information and think out of the box. So, if you want to prepare your child for the future, focus only on A and not on A to Z.

educational toys

My child doesn’t play with toys

The potential possibilities of any child are the most intriguing and stimulating in all creation.” Ray L. Wilbur

Der Spielzeugfreie Kindergarten – The nursery without toys

Rainer Strick and Elke Schubert, public health officers in Germany, wanted to show that children can play happily and creatively when they are not being “suffocated” by their toys. The result – Boredom sets in during the initial stages of the experiment but the children soon began to use their basic surroundings to invent games and use imagination in their playing.

Too many toys overwhelm kids. There are too many choices to choose from. Sometimes there is no dedicated space for kids to stay put, focus, and play. So, jumping on the bed or climbing up the table seems a better alternative to them.

Solution 1: Rotate toys

When a child has too many choices, their little brains get overstimulated, and they end up not choosing anything at all. With fewer toys, they won’t be as stimulated. This leads to freeing up the mind to focus, explore, and use their imagination.

Toy rotation is not a novel concept. Thousands of moms around the world use this method to engage their kids for hours keeping their house clutter free. Just search for “How to rotate toys” on google and you will get 17 Lacs+ results.

Benefits of toy rotation:

Kids learn to take care of things: When kids have too many toys, they will naturally take less care of them. They will not learn to value them if there is always a replacement ready at hand.

Kids learn perseverance: Kids who have too many toys give up too quickly. If they have a toy that they can’t figure out, it will quickly be discarded for the sake of a different, easier one. Kids with fewer toys learn perseverance, patience, and determination.

Kids live in a cleaner, tidier home: If you have kids, you know that toy clutter can quickly take over an entire home. Fewer toys result in a less-cluttered, cleaner, healthier home.

Solution 2: Replace musical toys with open-ended toys

The most popular kid’s toys today are plastic toys that light up and make all sorts of noise. They are cheap to buy, but often require frequent replacement when they get broken. Before buying any of such toys you need to ask yourself this – Is this toy making my kid smarter or dumber. The answer is when a toy is doing all the work and a kid is just watching the show, there is no learning. And, who likes to listen to the same slice of a song or sentence repeated by a toy over and over!

Get toys that encourage open-ended play where your kid gets to decide what to do with them. Open-ended toys encourage kids to be creative, to use their imagination, and to decide how to use them. Wooden blocks, magnetic tiles, and Legos are perfect for open-ended play.

 

Solution 3: Always keep age-appropriate toys

All of us look at the recommended age of a toy before purchasing it. But, how many of us check for the age-appropriateness of existing toys regularly?

  • Check for the broken toys regularly, at least once a month, and move them out of your kid’s reach
  • If a toy has served its purpose and your kid has outgrown the toy, move it out
  • When your kid gets interested in a particular topic – say sea animals – take out and play with toys that reinforce the concept or provide additional learning
Selecting the toys for kids is not an easy task. Check out our handy guide to get some tips.

Happy Playing!

Free Play

Free Play is the key to an effective early learning

What’s the big deal about big brain

“The experience of play changes the connections of the neurons at the front end of your brain,” says Sergio Pellis, a researcher at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada. “And without play experience, those neurons aren’t changed,” he says. So, play impacts the brain by causing the prefrontal cortex to become bigger and faster.

This is important because the prefrontal cortex is the brain’s executive control center. That’s where the brain regulates emotions, makes plans, and solves problems. So, scientists confirm that play is essential to healthy and exceptional brain development.

Not just any play, but Free Play

But, not just any play will suffice. To make the most of the early brain development, kids need what is called “free-play”. As Pellis says,

No coaches, no umpires, no rule books…Whether it’s rough-and-tumble play or two kids deciding to build a sand castle together, the kids themselves have to negotiate, well, what are we going to do in this game? What are the rules we are going to follow?

By engaging in free-play, and a lot of it, the brain builds new circuits in the prefrontal cortex to help it navigate these complex social interactions.

But, the key here is unstructured and free play. This cannot be replaced by guided play where teachers have imposed rules or a physical education class where the children play a game of basketball. This is because for play to have the impact on brain development as stated above, the act of playing must truly be playful.

Free-Play with Rentoys

All the toys at Rentoys are selected keeping in mind what we call “open-endedness” which we measure by asking questions such as in how many ways the toy can be played with, is there any rule book, and does the toy force the kids to think/create on his/her own.

This is why we offer a box on a monthly basis because we know that a kid can remain engaged with our toys for at least a month. Be it pretend-play toys with which kids can make new stories every day or magnetic toys such as magnatiles, grippies builders etc with which kids can make new structures every day, a Rentoys box guarantees free-play for your kids.

Early Learning

What is early learning?

Early learning is generally confused with what kids learn in school or daycare. In fact, early learning starts as early as the birthday. Babies are born learning. Very young kids learn through play, the active exploration of their environment, and, most importantly, through interactions with the significant adults in their lives.

Early Literacy

Learning to read and write doesn’t start in kindergarten or first grade.

Developing language and literacy skills begins at birth through every day loving interactions, such as sharing books, telling stories, singing songs and talking to one another. Adults—parents, grandparents, and teachers—play a very important role in preparing young children for future school success and helping them become self-confident and motivated learners.

Early Math and Science

Children use early math skills throughout their daily routines and activities. This is good news as these skills are important for being ready for school.

But early math doesn’t mean taking out the calculator during playtime. Even before they start school, most children develop an understanding of addition and subtraction through everyday interactions. Other math skills are introduced through daily routines you share with your child, like counting steps as you go up or down. Informal activities give children a jumpstart on the more formal math instruction that starts in school.

Language and Communication

Babies communicate from day one by using gestures, sounds and expressions to share feelings and needs like hunger, sleepiness, or joy.

Even before their first words, they will develop their own unique ways of communicating with you.

Play

There’s a lot happening during playtime. Little ones are lifting, dropping, looking, pouring, bouncing, hiding, building, knocking down, and more.

Children are more than busy when they’re playing. When your children play with you, they are also learning that they are loved and important and that they are fun to be around. These social-emotional skills give babies the self-esteem and self-confidence they need to continue building loving and supportive relationships all their lives.

Source: https://www.zerotothree.org/