It is important to have a physical environment that encourages exploration and the physical development of all the children. Children differ in how quickly they develop their large and fine motor skills. Development occurs in stages, each one building upon the previous ones. The rate of this development is less important than the sequence. At SCC we do not pressure or demand that the children excel at every physical task. The goal is to encourage them to want to become more skillful. Most children are so excited when they learn something new they do it over and over again without any urging.
Gross Motor Skills:
Gross motor control refers to the movements of the large muscles of the body. A child starts developing gross motor control from the moment he is born. When the child becomes older, he is still developing his motor skills. Play is crucial for children to fully develop both their gross and fine motor skills. We provide plenty of time for play along with open space and many age appropriate toys to gain physical skills on. Supervised rough and tumble play is also allowed because it can be a helpful form of gross motor exercise for those who enjoy playing this way.
Some of the gross motor skills that we help our preschool children increase their proficiency at are, running, jumping, hopping, marching, climbing, throwing a ball and going down a slide. These are all gross motor skills that most preschool age children can do. Without reasonable gross motor skills, children often struggle with the fine motor skills that are required for formal school work.
Fine Motor Skills:
As the young child develops increasingly better control of his body, he starts to develop skills that require coordination of eyes and hands or “fine motor development.” For preschoolers, the fine motor skills they must learn are much more difficult to master than the gross motor skills. The reason is, fine motor development depends on muscular control, patience, and judgment as well as brain coordination. Some of the fine motor skills that we help our preschool children become proficient at are, pasting objects, matching simple objects, buttoning a shirt and zipping a zipper, building with blocks, stringing beads, doing puzzles, controlling a pencil and crayon well, pouring from a pitcher to a glass, cutting paper into small pieces, and cutting food with a knife and fork. These are all fine motor skills that most preschool children can do.
The sensorial area of our preschool curriculum refers to the development of the child’s sensory faculties. It is important to encourage children to develop all of their senses: sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste. By doing this we are helping the child to classify his environment by discerning qualities that are alike and unalike, how they’re different, and the relationship between the similarities and differences.
In the visual activities the children learn how to visually discriminate differences between objects that are similar and different. In the hearing activities the children learn to discriminate between different sounds. For the hearing discrimination in the Entry Level class we use plush song birds that make accurate bird calls. We take two of the birds at a time and let the children listen to each individual call while telling them the name of the bird. Then we move the two birds out of sight and activate the sound on one of them. As the children listen they tell us the name of the bird that is singing. For auditory discrimination we also play a game by sitting at the large window in the Entry Level classroom and listening closely to see if we can tell when the next car will be coming by.
Activities to enhance the child’s sense of touch include tactile, baric, thermic and stereognostic exercises. Tactile activities are designed to enhance the sense of touch in the tips of the fingers while baric activities use the hand to determine differences in pressure or weight. In thermic exercises the child works to enhance his sense of temperature and in stereognostic exercises the child learns to feel objects without seeing them and recognize them based on what he feels.
Our cooking activities help the children explore their sense of smell and taste and at snack time we let them pick up and cut their own fruit or hardboiled egg. Some of the resources we use in the sensorial portion of our curriculum are the Montessori color tablets, the sound boxes, fabric boxes, the mystery bag, the smelling bottles, and the knobbed cylinders.
The more the children use all of their senses, the more areas of the brain that are stimulated to assist them in their learning processes.
Though it may seem that preschoolers are too young to experience tension, the fact is, children this age are very in-tune with the world around them and they too can experience stress. The purpose of our yoga class is to help the children relax and release some of that tension that gets stored in their bodies. This not only helps them feel better physically, but as they learn to relax and release tension, their ability to process information increases.
Our yoga class offers a nice balance between music, movement, breathing exercises, and self-expression. It promotes body awareness, motor coordination and it helps to build character. Yoga offers children the opportunity to be still and go within.