Young children are naturally curious and full of life. Provided a supportive environment, they will joyfully splash, build and smash, pretend, sing, and dance. And while they are having a ton of fun, they are also making sense of the world and learning through exploration, experimentation and social interaction.
The LEGO Community Fund US has long asserted that learning through play enables children to become creative and engaged lifelong learners. In 2014, they put forward a proposal and funding to develop and test new materials to advance facilitated play in children’s homes, preschool and kindergarten. The idea is that a young child’s parents and teachers should really be facilitators of intentional play experiences.
The pilot was slated for Manchester and Enfield, home of LEGO’s U.S. headquarters. The Hartford Foundation matched LEGO’s grant, and the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood participated with in-kind funds to create a training video, making this a truly cross-sector effort.
The collaborative, 17-month initiative ran from January 2015 through May 2016. During that time, participating parents and educators learned how facilitated play can support children’s cognitive, social and emotional development. Emphasis was placed on how to teach young children, not what to teach them.