Presentation - ECV2022-248
Background: Traditional preschool education has always placed a strong emphasis on teaching children to read, write, and perform mathematical operations from a young age, since these are the main skills that will have the biggest impact on their academic success in the future. Unfortunately, most public and even private early childhood education (ECE) centres in Armenia still follow this logic and emphasise academic skills early without generally promoting cognitive development.
Aim: In Armenia, public ECE institutions have not yet fully embraced the promotion of cognitive development through engaging, child-centred play and learning. The aim is to spread awareness to promote child-centred playful learning through implicit and explicit teaching and present activities to help develop cognitive skills in a playful environment.
Method: This presentation will overview scientific research of the topic and present practical activities with the group of kindergarteners at Indigami Child Development Centre (CDC) that promote cognitive development through playful learning. The qualitative data was collected by individual and group interviews of the preschool educators who have been promoting cognitive development through easy, error-tolerant, playful learning but worked previously according to traditional academic curriculum. They reported positive differences compared to the previous years’ groups. The children are actively engaged in learning compared to the previous year’s group, they apply the knowledge gained through play to their active lives, they are socially interactive, they are curious and motivated. Thus, the integration of play in the learning process positively contributed to a successful learning environment, thus promoting the learning process and therefore cognitive skills. The qualitative research analysis is based on assessment tests at the end of each academic year. The results of last two years were compared with those of the preceding two years. The assessment test results of recent years compared to previous years will be presented.
Results: Based on the interviews of educators, visual examination and video recordings of children’s play and engagement, we can say that children showed full engagement compared to merely learning academic knowledge, suggesting easy, unaware, error-tolerant, emotional and holistic learning. By focusing on the development of cognitive processes, communication skills, and self-regulation mechanisms of behaviour, it is expected that this will support children’s future academic skills.
Conclusions: Children are constantly thinking, inventing, experimenting, and learning when they play. In Armenia, public ECE institutions have not yet fully embraced the promotion of cognitive development through engaging play and learning. Our everyday activities are organised in a child-centred environment through playful implicit teaching that constantly emphasises the development of cognitive abilities in an easy, error-tolerant, emotional, holistic way.
Implications for children and families: Play is important for your child’s cognitive development. That is, your child’s ability to think, understand, communicate, remember, imagine and work out what might happen next. Preschoolers want to learn how things work, and they learn best through playful learning that is pleasant, not forced, and in line with their abilities. You can increase your children’s cognitive skills and support their cognitive development through play. Play and interaction are the best learning methods.
Implications for practitioners: Hands-on activities can assist you in enriching your teaching and develop more effective teaching methods. You can use our hands-on activities to promote cognitive development in a playful environment.
Key words: professionals’ voices, innovations, well-being, communication, education
This presentation relates to the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: