Discussions in regards to early childhood education typically include an emphasis on the importance of children learning the necessary emergent literacy, language and pre-math and science skills and milestones that are necessary for kindergarten success. Aside from the concepts in core areas linked directly to academia, there is also the development of skills in early learning settings that play a crucial role in kindergarten– “soft” skills.
Soft skills are the Social Emotional developmental milestones that help children affectively communicate with one another, solve problems, handle conflict, share, take turns and self-regulate. Some experts may argue that these skills are most important as it relates to adapting in a kindergarten setting but are less mentioned because soft skills aren’t concrete concepts while both parents and teachers find introducing reading, math and science more straightforward.
Reading, math, and science domains help form a solid foundation in which activities can be created and results be measured more easily and quickly while soft skills are abstract and developed slowly over time as a result of continuous play and learning in a nurturing environment.
Play-based learning also helps introduce the concept of other developmental domains as outlined on the Florida Office of Early Learning’s Florida Early Learning and Development Standards as outlined below.
This domain covers changes in body proportion, coordination, strength and increasingly complex brain development. Children develop remarkable physical, motor, and sensory capacities that enhance exploration and mastery of the environment. This domain covers Fine motor skills (that help strengthen small motor muscles that help young children learn to write and are also needed for many self-help tasks like buttoning shirts, zipping backpacks.) and Gross motor skills (responsible for strengthening the large muscles needed to run, jump, kick, balance and throw. These motor skills can be developed through outdoor play.)
Approaches to Learning:
This is a unique and critical domain of children’s development that reflects specific content knowledge that document what children know and do, Approaches to Learning is not about specific content knowledge. Instead, it addresses how children deal with new environments, interactions, and discoveries. Lastly, this domain describes children’s attitudes and dispositions toward learning.
Social Studies, to most, may see like a more mature concept but simply involve children exploring their world and trying to make sense of the social and physical environments. Social Studies in early childhood encompasses each child’s basic understanding with self and family then expands to the broader world that surrounds them.
Creative Expression Through the Arts
This domain includes creating through music, paint, clay, drama, allows children opportunities to express ideas and feelings, use words, manipulate tools and media, and solve problems Through the arts, children learn to express what they know, pursue their own interests and abilities and appreciate the contributions of others. They begin to understand that others can be creative in different ways and show appreciation for these differences by asking questions and commenting. A common art you’ll most likely see in an early education setting is Pretend play, in which children get to act out different scenarios and practice skills they are learning, and Sensory Play, which stimulates a child’s senses. The best part about this domain, is that it crosses over to many of the other important domains found within early learning.
To learn more about these domains and the Florida Early Learning and Development Standards, visit http://flbt5.floridaearlylearning.com/standards.html#