Teaching Life Skills Through Center Play
Does your four-year-old know how to sit down in a restaurant and order sushi? Do they know how to take an order? Cash out a purchase? Cook a meal? The odds are the answers to those questions is probably no. At Kidz World, we pride ourselves on teaching life skills through center play. A four-year-old is not going to walk into a restaurant and cook a meal, however, by learning life skills, they become familiar with the process and understand the behaviors that’s expected of them and those around them.
Ms. Justus and Ms. Brandi have worked very hard on the centers in our Green Room. They put a lot of time and energy into boosting the learning experience in center play. Yes, they can play restaurant in the center, but let’s take it to a whole other realm. Let’s open a Sushi restaurant, cook the meals, wait the tables, serve the customers, and cash them out. The children get to walk through each step of the restaurant business. They learn what it takes to be a Cook, Server, Cashier, Customer, Dishwasher, and Boss. They learn to relate roles filled by parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and so many others.
Not only do they learn about the different jobs involved in restaurant work, but they learn about food from a different culture. They learn what goes into making a sushi roll and other items on the menu. Why is this important? They just might be enticed to try different foods and they just might like it.
Have you ever been seated in a restaurant and have your dinner completely ruined by a child screaming, throwing food, or running rampant through the aisles? Teaching life skills through center play is a great way to teach manners. Through center play, the children learn social skills. They learn to share, use their manners, and interact with others around them in a polite manner. No pushing, fighting, screaming, or running. They learn that there are rules in society that everyone must follow or completely disrupt the surroundings.
I’m going to show you some pictures and point out some things I want you to notice. Some of these things the children have picked up from watching the behaviors of their own family in the same circumstances, some they are learning for the first time. Children learn through experience. Every time you interact with your child, they are learning something.
Teaching Life Skills Through Center Play
The cook is properly dressed with a Chef’s hat to keep her hair out of the food. She is wearing an apron to keep her clothes clean. She is combining ingredients to complete her dish. Notice how her arms are lifted to keep away from the heat of the stove? (This is pretend – no heat).
The young man, acting as Cashier, has brought the ticket to the customer. The customers appear happy and enjoying their meals. One customer has a to-go-bag on the table. Everyone seems happy with the roles they are fulfilling.
The customers are being checked out by the Cashier. They have pretend money to make transactions and a cash register. They are learning the value of money.
Notice the purse hanging on the back of the chair. Maybe this is something she has witnessed her mother doing. Notice how she sits to the front of the chair. This shows interest in the menu she is reading. The look on her face shows she is putting thought into her order.
The children take turns fulfilling the roles of the restaurant, so everyone gets an equal opportunity.
Here, we have a wonderful example of some of the items found in a Sushi Restaurant. The children get a hands-on experience learning about the foods and the positions in a restaurant.
But wait, the lesson doesn’t need to stop here! We are opening the door for parents to take this lesson even further. Talk to your child about what they have learned. Maybe you work in the food services industry and can teach them more. Take them to a Sushi Restaurant. Let them try sushi. Maybe they will like it, maybe they won’t. How about the Crab Rangoon or other items on the trays above? These are opportunities to allow them new experiences. Learning experiences.
Center play is an opportunity for children to bring in the knowledge they have learned at home, from parents and family, out in the real world, from TV, and education from childcare. They learn there is more than one way to do things. They learn about rules and manners. They learn trades that might stir a passion in them to become one day. Center play is an important part of a child’s development. It requires the interaction of the teacher and continuation by the parent. At each stage of learning, it is imperative the child be encouraged to advance and continue, take the lesson to the next stage.
Author: Belinda Davis ©2018