VOL16ISS2 2016

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THE ORIGINAL RELOCATION GUIDE — TRIANGLE NC | VOLUME 16 — ISSUE 2 72 CHILDCARE Science and Exploration: BY LESLIE MOORE-MARTINEZ The first three years of childhood are consumed with exploration and experimentation. In fact, Jean Piaget, one of the most influential developmental psychologists of the 20th century, described young children as "natural scientists," referring to how toddlers examine their surroundings to understand the world around them. By tapping into children's tendency to explore and discover, parents can help nurture and extend their learning. From the moment babies enter the world, their curiosity sparks a need to observe and classify objects and actions. Their brains actually change as a result of the new things they learn. As children continue to grow and explore, new discoveries help them enrich, modify, reorganize – and sometimes replace – their initial theories with different ideas. This type of hands-on learning explains why young children may scrutinize a new object in an effort to figure out how it works, or experiment with sound and movement as they learn how to use their bodies to communicate. Encouraging children's natural tendency to learn through play and exploration allows them to investigate topics that interest them and develop their creative muscles. A child playing with a toy or even the box that the toy came in is an example of his imagination – and learning – in action. And when we support this way of learning, we are cheering children on to discover and tackle new challenges creatively. This is an important step in helping them build determination and confidence in their own abilities. There are several activities parents can do at home to bring out the natural scientist in their child and support his or her learning: 1. Follow your child's lead. Allow children to explore a new toy before giving directions or demonstrating how it's supposed to work. For example, if your child decides that a yellow building block makes great dinosaur food, that's okay! There isn't a right or wrong way to play and learn. 2. Create an environment for learning. Stimulate your child's imagination by setting the stage for independent exploration. Identify your child's interests and create a safe setting where she is free to explore. For example, if your child is fascinated by nature, visit family-friendly parks and nature centers like the Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve in Cary and let her lead the way for the day. If you have younger children, you might allow them to explore new spaces within your home with close supervision or try the preschool play area at Pullen Park in Raleigh. 3. Tell stories. Storytelling is a wonderful way to expand a child's imagination. Encourage your little one to make up a story about a pet or best friend. Start with a favorite book, and see if he can imagine substituting someone he knows as the main character. Take that character on a different adventure and try to imagine another ending for the story. This is a great way to break down boundaries that suggest things have to be done a certain way. 4. Explore an idea. The next time your child has an idea or question, turn the conversation into an investigation of ideas. For example, if she asks, "Where do lions live?" say, "I'm not sure. Let's find out." Whether you find a book about lions, search for more information online or visit the North Carolina Zoo in Ashboro, you are likely to discover far more about lions than where they live. Researching an area of interest your child has is another form of exploration that shows her the world is full of possibility. Primrose schools in the Raleigh-Durham area accepts children from 6 weeks old through pre-K, with select schools offering before and after-school programs as well as summer camps for school-age children. The Primrose Balanced Learning® approach nurtures children's intellectual, creative, physical and social- emotional development through a balance of purposeful play and nurturing guidance from teachers. Nearly 1,400 children are currently enrolled at Primrose schools in the Triangle region. To learn more about the 10 schools in the Raleigh-Durham area, visit www. [] A Toddler's Guide to Understanding the World Owner of Primrose School at e Park

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