Getting outside and being active is vital in the development of all children, especially the youngest of our kids who make up the students in the Early Years Program. One of the most meaningful explorations for our young students to engage in is also one of the simplest - Water Play.
This simple act of playing with water has so many notable benefits for children's development, making it one of the most well-liked activities in early childhood education. Also, it’s never a bad thing to get out under the California sun and play in the water to cool off and keep children engaged.
At its basic essence, Water Play is all about sensory play and our Early Years students benefit greatly from having all of their senses fully engaged. As they take in the world around them the children find great comfort and stimulation in exploring all their senses. From the feeling of just having the water pour out of a spout onto their hands to seeing how the water interacts with the environment around them, playing in water gives the young children a sensory feedback that is incredibly rewarding and stimulating.
Playing in water is also a great release of energy for the students. Splashing and playing in water is not only satisfying in its sensory feedback but also facilitates a focused release of energy for the children. Getting the sensory feedback of playing in water, like running through sprinklers, is rewarding and beneficial for their mood and for their emotional regulation. In these pivotal years of learning, finding ways to release their energy, both physically and mentally, is crucial to their development.
Additionally, one of the most important aspects of all play is the motor skills that are developed. Playing in water gives the children many different ways to manipulate it with their bodies, either using their own hands or with toys and tools. These little movements, such as playing with pipettes to suck up and drop water, or soak water up with a sponge and then squeeze it out helps to strengthen fine motor skills. The larger movements of scooping, splashing, dunking, and rinsing then support the development of gross motor skills. All those little actions are also teaching them a number of scientific properties which is a great academic benefit. The children can see for themselves the act of absorption, dilution, permeability, and so much more. Early on we all learn through observation and hands-on experience. It’s how we learn everything from language to social interaction. The act of play is one of the greatest social learning tools for children. Sharing the water sources and taking turns is critical as they learn how to navigate social situations. The language and communication skills used in sharing as well as the vocabulary that the teachers use with the students to describe the water and its properties are all things children pick up on and model themselves after.
In the end, water does not tell you how to play with it. It can be engaged with in so many different ways. It is such a great source for children to put their own imaginative spin on what it is and how to play with it each and every time they interact with it. It can be anything.“They could play with water every single day and it's equally as fascinating because they explore in a new and different way each time,” according to Early Years Principal Jacqueline Cody. “It's like they’re little scientists. They're conducting experiments out there all of the time. ‘What happens if I put this material in here? What happens if I lift the water up from this height and drop it from that height and move in this direction and that direction and splash it up and where does it go and what does it feel like?’ It’s endlessly engaging.”
Learn more about our Early Years program at INTL and contact admissions today!