How do early learning practitioners know if children are being adequately stimulated and challenged? I’m not at all sure of the answer to this question. I would think a good sign would be if the children seem engaged in the activities and are starting to stretch the boundaries of the activity to suit their curiosities and interests. Is it their sole responsibility? If so, why is that? If not, who is responsible for children being challenged, curious, and having the opportunity to participate in fantasy? It is definitely not the case of the teacher to be solely responsible for children to be adequately stimulated, engaged, and challenged. To use a cliche, it takes a village to raise a child. Parents, grandparents, teachers, neighbours,et al. all have a responsibility to challenge and engage the child.
These may seem like pat answers, but they are just the starting point of a conversation. Who is responsible for a child’s creative play and learning? (at any age) I think one mistake many parents make today is enrolling their children in several structured creative programs, at early ages. Picking your child up from school and then shuttling them to many different types of activities to keep them engaged and challenged may not be the right answer. Kids need to play. Just play. There is nothing wrong with extra-curricular activities and programs. It’s just that it seems like too often we are trying to hard to engage our kids with structured activities when sometimes it’s okay to just let them roam around a park and pick up sticks. Nothing can replace play.
Dietze, B. (2012). Chapter 2: The Process of Play. Playing and learning in early childhood education (p. 39). Toronto: Pearson Canada.