The great educational scientist Maria Montessori is famously quoted as saying, “Play is the work of the child.” If this is indeed the case—we believe it is—and if an important amount of our self-esteem as humans is tied to our work, then the long term emotional wellbeing of a child is a result of the quality of their play.

While preschoolers don’t exhibit a mature mastery of their emotions, the foundations for future emotional stability are certainly built during the young formative years. The path we set our young children on from the beginning can have a lifelong impact. It’s essential, therefore, that we choose the correct pedagogical approach in all areas of preschool learning, but especially when it comes to the philosophical approach to natural learning through play.

When done properly, we can help a young child grow into a capable, knowledgeable person who is independent, emotionally secure, socially aware, and responsible.

How do we accomplish this?

By using everyday play, learning isn’t overwhelming. Pressure is removed as children are simply doing what is natural to themselves, namely: playing. As the pressure valve is opened for children, a world of emotional growth can take place in preschoolers.

It’s important to note that the type of play matters. It has been observed that when given the choice, children prefer play that involves moments of concentration, engagement, and discovery, as opposed to chaotic and random play.

A natural, play-based, learning environment that is primarily self-guided through self-discovery, such as we provide at Dogwood Lane Children’s Academy helps the child build emotional intelligence through relationships, interactions, and activities. Instead of finite lessons learned through directed rote, we prefer to have our teachers act as more of a guide or coach, allowing the child to take control of their own explorative growth process. This learning how to self-discover and self-regulate is crucial for emotional development.

Or, to give another example, as children learn social interactions such as sharing, taking taking turns, negotiating conflict (albeit in the most basic forms of negotiation), and making friends, they learn internal measurement tools, derived from emotional leveling. The harmonious balance fostered by our classroom settings makes this prosocial emotional development possible.

If you would like to learn more about our curriculum, natural learning approach, or other aspects of our school, please contact us for a guided tour.