Learning through Play as TYO's Core Child Program Begins
Today, with grins from ear to ear, children leaped off of the buses and raced into our TYO-Nablus center for their first day of class. For many of these 3-5 year olds, this 12-week program will be their first school-like experience. They come from the most disadvantaged neighborhoods and refugee camps in Nablus, where they often suffer from severe poverty, cramped living conditions, hunger, verbal or physical abuse, and neglect. In spite of these obstacles, these children are filled to the brim with potential. Currently in their most sensitive period of growth, these children will develop basic cognitive, social, and emotional skills during these formative years. After all, ninety percent of these abilities are formed by the time a child reaches 5 years old.
Investing in early childhood education is one of the most effective ways a society can generate sustainable human, social, and financial capital. Studies from the Early Education Association show that children enrolled in early childhood education programs are more likely to complete high school, to earn higher wages, and to have healthier lives. Moreover, every dollar invested in early childhood education generates 7-10% annual return in improved education, social, health, and economic benefits.
However, basic preschool programs are not enough. Rather, early childhood education programs are most effective when they incorporate opportunities for unstructured, imaginative play. Programs that include “free play”, such as those at TYO, are critical for developing children’s social, emotional, and intellectual abilities. When children are deprived of opportunities to play, their social development is obstructed. That is because, through play, children learn to communicate, negotiate, and share with their peers; to cope with stress; to solve problems; and to think creatively.
We look forward to observing how each of our children progresses during this session. Let the learning begin!