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While driving past my three-year old son’s preschool the other day, he proclaimed, “My school is the best school in the whole wide world!” I thought to myself, if not the best school, definitely one of the best. My son’s school not only makes him happy, but he is also proud of his school. I love hearing him say “my school.” Each time he says it, I can hear excitement and satisfaction in his little voice. The first time he asked me if he could go to school on the weekend, I knew he was definitely in the right place.
I am thrilled that my son is part of such an amazing learning environment because I know how important education is for children in their early years. From birth until the age of 5, our children’s brains are developing at such rapid speed and the quality of the education they receive during this period has a long-term effect on their overall learning and development. Hence, schooling during the early years is just as important, in some ways more important than primary and secondary education, although it is often not valued as much.
Why does my son love his school so much? Because it’s fun! Nearly everyday my son tells me how much fun he has “playing with the toys” at his school. What he thinks of as toys are fun, engaging learning materials. My son and his classmates don’t do worksheets, they don’t sit and wait for instruction that is based on boring repetition, rather they actively create their own learning with help from their teachers. Essentially, they learn through play! While at school, my son fishes for the numbered crabs to increase his numerical identification skills and to practice basic addition and subtraction. He runs and jumps through obstacle courses to enhance his gross motor skills. He plucks fresh vegetables from the garden, then helps wash and prepare the vegetables for lunch. Over a morning or two as part of his free time, he builds bridges, creates a river, looks for local animals from the treehouse, and engages in art-based creative activities. Just last week, he delivered dried corn to the hungry farm animals by driving a dump truck along a curvy road. When I asked him about this activity, the first thing he said was, “Mom, it is going to make you so happy!” Of course, it made me happy because it made him so happy. These play-based activities are more than play. They are designed to help children develop and refine cognitive skills, especially problem solving, and to contribute to the children's overall developmental.
It’s obvious that the teachers are the ones responsible for my son’s fun at school. They are smart, fun, encouraging, and loving. Simply, they are gifted teachers. They understand young children and respect them. The teachers recognize that their students have lots of energy and are not always perfect rather than expecting them to act like little adults. They don’t use fear or try to intimidate the children at the school because they use FUN instead. Out of the blue, one morning last week, on the way to school. my son announced, “no one at my school is naughty, Mom.” I said, “I know! Everyone is too busy having fun, they don’t have time to get into trouble.”
Not only does my son love his school, but I see how the school is helping him develop into a confident and capable little boy. My son entered the school gate last week with a big smile on his face and a huge “Good Morning!” I had never heard him proclaim “good morning” with so much energy and zest before. He feels comfortable and confident in his school. His talk and behavior shows me that he feels the school was made for him, as it should be, it’s his school after all!
My son is one lucky little fellow. I wish that all children had the opportunity to learn in such a positive and motivating environment. Schooling should inspire our children. It should value their uniqueness instead of suppressing their curiosity and natural love of learning. I was taken aback last week when my son said to me that he wanted to become a teacher when he grew up. But given that he experiences such amazing teachers on a daily basis, why wouldn’t he want to be just like the people who are responsible for his joy?