For children, science provides the answers to many questions, an extension of the world around them and the development of life skills. Introducing this at an early age is vital for encouraging curious and thoughtful minds. In this Q&A session, we interview Kathy Bolouri, Principal of White Lodge Phoenix Park, on the importance of early science and sensory play in preschool.
What is sensory play?
KB: Children use their senses to explore and try to make sense of the world around them. All activities that engage and stimulate their senses such as touch, taste, smell, sight, hearing and even vestibular sense are defined as sensory play.
How does sensory play fall into White Lodge’s values?KB: At White Lodge we encourage children to explore and investigate and all happens via fun and interesting play as we believe play is child’s work. We provide tremendous sensory play opportunities for them to actively use their senses while learning and exploring the world around them. We find it important for their brain development and cognitive growth, language development, fine and gross motors skills, social interaction, problem solving and critical thinking skills.
What are some of the ways White Lodge incorporate sensory play into their curriculum?
KB: Sensory play is integrated in our professionally designed White Lodge curriculum by our founder Ms Jayne. At White Lodge we provide sensory materials indoors as well as outdoors. We offer children opportunity for hands-on and self-directed opportunity to explore.
Can you give some examples of sensory science activities at White Lodge?
KB: Lots of messy play such as colour mixing, foam, sand play, playdough, chalk, bubbles and many more. Cookery sessions are a huge hit with our children too! They are able to observe when chemical reactions happen for example when dough rises to form bread!
Why do you think it is important for children to be introduced to scientific concepts at an early age?
KB: For children to acquire an appreciation and respect for scientific approach, science is a great introduction for children to find out more about their world. The learn to recognize how science can affect their lives and build enthusiasm for engaging in exploring scientific ideas for themselves. Learning science helps young children to learn about new concepts such as our health and their immediate environment.
What are the key concepts taught in Science?
KB: We start with learning about their bodies, living and non- living things, materials and forces with the main idea that science is organized under themes which develop through the course of the programme.
What age is Science taught to children at White Lodge?
KB: Science is introduced in our Nursery class and is carried through to Kindergarten level.
Science can be a difficult concept to teach. How do you keep children engaged and motivated during Science?
KB: Our children are concrete learners, and with the tools and the right resources, they stay engaged as they explore and investigate!
For your Pre-Kindergarten Science programme, there are no workbooks or worksheets used. Why is that?
KB: Children learn by doing. Our hands-on science programme encourages the children to do something – observe, ask questions, touch, smell, experiment. This gives them the chance to make discoveries on their own and they will be more likely to remember a learning experience if it is a real experience for them.
Are there any ways that parents/careers can incorporate sensory play at home?
KB: Plenty! Get children involved in the day to day routine like cooking and cleaning and you will have them busy on the tasks that engages their senses!
How does White Lodge develop sensory science activities overtime?
KB: Our Science/sensory activities are developmentally appropriate and planned around children’s interest. Children like all things related to the experiment, exploration, and experience. In supporting and promoting their interests in science, our teachers facilitate their learning experiences and encourage children to make their own authentic connections and scaffold on their prior knowledge and experiences.
Sensory play provides children with opportunities to familiarise themselves with scientific concepts and foster a lifelong love of science. Gaining this real-world understanding is crucial at the developmental stage where children are naturally curious.
Here at White Lodge, we take the most advanced learning in child development and apply them practically, and with purpose. Learn more about our curriculum and learning programmes by contacting us today.