Children are born naturally curious. By exploring and using their senses of sight, touch, sound, smell and taste, children learn about themselves and their environment. They are constantly discovering new things or ideas – how something feels, tastes or smells; or how something works, moves or reacts. Young children are attempting to discover the unknown by touching everything. Babies and toddlers often explore something new by putting the object in their mouths.
Play is far more than just a way to fill children’s free time. Play is one of the main ways children learn from the world around them. Children in child care need a curriculum filled with ample opportunities for exploration and discovery learning. This requires lots of multi-sensory, hands-on activities and plenty of time scheduled for play. Simple, everyday things like playing with water, banging pots and pans or taking a nature walk outside help stimulate children’s learning and form connections in their growing brains.
As a child care provider, you can help foster children’s growth and imagination by giving them many chances to play. Encourage them to try things, to explore, and to discover. Support their curiosity in safe ways. The following articles provide more information about the importance of play in child care.