The element that I would like to focus on this week is the dramatic play/ cooperative play element of the program. For example, depending on the theme, I set up a flower shop, a grocery store, a pizza shop, a castle, or we play with life-sized building blocks. This also includes any time the children take toys off the STEAM cart and play together. Dramatic play is where the children take on roles and by doing so, they gain an understanding of social studies, develop their language with words pertaining purchasing items and running a store, and develop the very important social and emotional skills such as taking turns, sharing, and dealing with emotions when they don’t get their way (self-regulation). Cooperative play creates an opportunity for the children to work together and to learn to negotiate and speak kindly to each other. When considering kindergarten readiness, the social/ emotional aspect of readiness is very important. The ability to negotiate and speak kindly to each other, take turns, and self-regulate are integral skills that children need to have practiced before entering kindergarten. This skill, along with fine motor skills, are even more important than academics, if you can believe it. That is why I include this element each week. I also do not mind if it becomes the hit station, while all the other stations sit empty, because of the skills the children are learning at this station and how important these skills are to the developing child.
I will always have counting, name exercises, and letter matching every week, so they will always have an opportunity for those skills, plus, these skills can always be practiced at home as well, but dramatic play/ cooperative play is special to this environment and the children should be encouraged to spend as much time as they want at this station.
To learn more about dramatic play and cooperative play, click here, here, and here.