Research on brain development indicates that concepts and information learned through play shape the actual structure of the brain by assisting in building and strengthening brain pathways. Play creates a brain that has greater flexibility and increased potential for learning throughout one’s lifetime. Studies have shown that children who participate in quality play-based experiences are more likely to have well-developed memory and language skills and are better able to regulate their behavior, factors which often lead to enhanced school adjustment and academic learning. One of the greatest benefits of play is to assist in the development of social competence. In play children learn to build relationships, resolve conflicts peacefully, and negotiate and regulate their behavior.
At the Open Center for Children you will see play-based curriculum that encourages children to do what they do naturally – PLAY! Children learn best when they’re having fun, and they are more likely to have fun when they are playing and free to learn at their own pace and in their own way. We hope that their play instills a love of learning and that children develop the skills they need to manage their behavior in a social world.
However, this does not mean that the children experience only unstructured time at Open Center. Children may play alone or with a small group of friends. They come together as a whole group to listen to stories and participate in music, nature and yoga experiences. They learn to follow the agreements of the classroom by taking turns talking and listening respectfully to the ideas of other children during morning meetings.
Teachers plan, guide and extend play activities. They listen and observe carefully as children play to discover what the children are interested in; teachers then use this information to help shape and extend the children’s learning. The classrooms are carefully prepared with activities, materials, projects and books that will engage and challenge the children and provide opportunities to learn cognitive, social and physical skills necessary for future learning.
The Open Center works to create a learning environment that inspires children to become motivated, self-directed learners who feel competent in their skills and abilities. We strive to provide opportunities for children to develop an understanding of the concepts of fairness and the ability to resolve conflicts peacefully.