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Cultivating Imagination, Mindfulness and Problem-Solving in Early Childhood Education

By Emma Gallenberg, enrichment specialist, YWCA Early Childhood Education
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We include music, art, yoga, mindfulness and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) as important parts of our Early Childhood Education program.

Imagination: A Door to Possibilities

Working with paint, learning how to play an instrument and writing stories aren’t just fun activities for children, they’re critical pieces of their education. As Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Imagination is the door to possibilities.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” – Albert Einstein

Developing Creativity through Music and Dance

In our child care and preschool classes, we compose music, play instruments, explore sounds and sing songs. We even use puppets, scarves and storyboards! When children participate in music and movement activities in a group, they have fun, develop their creativity and refine their social skills.

Painting, Sculpture, Printmaking and More!

We also study art, art history and culture using a variety of mediums: painting, sculpture, performance art, printmaking, photography, drawing, mixed media and more! Art is a language that allows us to express and develop our ideas and emotions, and connect to one another. When children are exposed to artistic activity, the brain is stimulated with sounds, movements, colors and sizes, which enhance the neural connections and help develop a growth mindset.

Calming Our Bodies through Yoga and Mindfulness

In the classroom, we also learn to calm our bodies using yoga, mindful movements and breathing tools. Yoga and mindfulness are all about social-emotional learning for children. Our classes enhance body awareness and teach present-moment awareness. We learn about “big feelings” and how to manage them.

Child in a yoga pose outside

Exploring, Experimenting and Problem-Solving with STEM

Children become architects, scientists, builders and designers in our classrooms. Imagining and experimenting help develop critical thinking skills and foster creative problem-solving. Children are naturally interested in the world around them – they observe, ask questions about what they see, investigate and try to predict what might happen next. STEM experiences can help children develop a passion for exploration and discovery.

Family Singalongs

Children love the songs, yoga and other enrichment activities that we do in the classroom. One father shared that his daughter was teaching him and her younger sister the songs we sing in music class – he said she loved one song about a walrus and the ocean especially, but couldn’t quite remember all of the words. He asked if he could learn the song, so they could sing it at home. The song was called “The Walrus Washes his Winter Coat.” We sang it together a few times to make sure that he had all the words down. Many families have shared similar stories about their children bringing home the many songs and activities we do in the classroom!

Learning through Creative Play

Imaginative and creative play is how children learn about the world. During these enrichment activities, children manipulate materials, express themselves, plan, interact, gain understanding about their emotions and try on different roles. They are employing creative thinking while they manipulate playdough, create recipes of dirt and water, and work with art materials –  all of which deepen and enhance children’s early learning experiences.

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