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For Early Childhood Education

The Science Behind Selecting Classroom Materials

Take a closer look at the “toys” in any of our classrooms or specialty rooms and you’ll see they’re much more than playthings.

“At The Malvern School, every classroom material – from rattles and blocks … to props for dramatic play and tools for S.T.E.A.M. learning – is carefully selected and promotes growth and development in more ways than meet the eye,” says Helene Swartz, Senior Program Operations Manager at The Malvern School.

She explains that all classroom materials are evaluated on the basis of:

  • Safety
  • Age appropriateness
  • Developmental milestones

“Tools that appropriately engage and challenge young children can – and do – have a significant impact on the way they learn, solve problems, interact with others and so much more,” she adds.

Infant Classrooms
Exploration and muscle development are two key focus areas for Infants at The Malvern School, which is why you won’t see many swings or bouncers in these rooms. We believe in a least restrictive environment that promotes movement, interaction and bonding with teachers and peers. What you will see are brightly colored mats on the floor and toys that encourage reaching, grasping and hand-eye coordination, such as shakers, hanging mobiles and push cars.

Toddler Classrooms
With Toddlers, we focus on developing physical, cognitive, social-emotional, problem solving and critical thinking skills, leaving the door open to a range of learning opportunities. Toys that children can push, pull, take apart and put back together – for example sorting toys, blocks, corn popper push toys or pull/tagalong toys – simultaneously exercise many of these skills, making them a staple in these classrooms. This is also the age when children begin engaging in imagination play, which is fostered by making props such as baby dolls, play kitchens and food part of their everyday routines.

Preschool & Pre-K Classrooms
In our older classrooms, 21st century learning skills – critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity – are core to our curriculum. To build these skills, our toys are as open ended as possible. Rather than having someone or something telling them exactly what to do, children have the freedom to let their creativity and imagination steer how they utilize materials available to them. For example, using bins of blocks, animal figurines and cars, friends can create a zoo, a circus, a car wash and much more. Or, with construction aprons, books about construction, Legos, K’NEX and other building materials, they can engineer bridges and buildings. There’s no limit to the possibilities.

“As a complement to small group work, ample child-directed time gives children the opportunity to explore alongside peers and teachers without tight boundaries that can constrict the development of the whole child,” adds Helene. “When you combine the science of early childhood development and the tools and teachers to bring it to life, that’s when learning thrives.”

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