Public opinion is finally catching up to what educators have known for decades: early childhood education matters. The DoSeum has become a vibrant hub of hands-on, play-based, innovative learning for all ages, including learners from birth to five. During the “Week of the Young Child,” April 10-16, The DoSeum is placing a special focus on its youngest visitors.
“At The DoSeum, we know how important it is to support the development of our city’s youngest learners,” said Ryan Smith, vice president of education at The DoSeum. “As a result, we develop programs and exhibits that serve as premier resources for families of early learners in San Antonio.”
Week of the Young Child is an annual event sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
The week recognizes the importance of early learning among young children, their teachers and families. As part of the national celebration, The DoSeum will honor young children and those who make a difference in their lives with a series of events throughout the week, from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. daily.
All “Week of the Young Child” events are free with admission to the DoSeum.
Monday’s activities centered around music. Students were encouraged to dance, sing, and listen to music in the East Yard, while their brains were stimulated. On Tuesday, attendees enjoyed food-based learning in H-E-B Little Town, culminating in healthy “tacos” of hummus and carrots rolled in lettuce.
On Wednesday, children will focus on working together at the Innovation Station; Thursday, they will take to the Art Yard for art-based learning. On Friday, families will be invited to enjoy a Family Day in the Imagine It! studio.
The final day– Saturday– will offer a day of fun-filled activities throughout the museum, all focused on young children. Between 10:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., early childhood educators will revisit the week’s educational themes found in each exhibit.
Cheryl Viera, The DoSeum’s early childhood educator, designed the activity schedule. Viera also directs The Little Do-ers, the museum’s weekly program for pre-schoolers. Like all early childhood programming at The DoSeum, the young child activities offer pre-school interpretations of the museum’s educational emphases.
“When we make our curriculum for this age group, we focus on developmental appropriateness,” said Viera.
She makes a point to provide multiple hands-on choices for children, keeping them engaged, even if they are not entirely interested in every single option. By offering a variety of developmentally-appropriate choices, and not insisting that children be particularly orderly or quiet, Viera said that things don’t get as chaotic as one might expect.
On “Taco Tuesday” children sang, danced and listened to a story about food. They then chose from a variety of activities in keeping with the food theme. Some pasted together picture-based grocery lists, some played with wooden food sets, and some found pictures of food to cut out of newspaper coupon inserts. Each activity reflects at least one of the principles that Viera incorporates into all the early childhood activities. When children cut, paste and build wooden food, they exercise small motor skills. When they create a grocery list, they are using symbolic representation, a pre-literacy skill. Kids are learning through activities, all while they are moving around and interacting with each other.
The museum’s offerings for pre-schoolers will continue to grow. In the fall, the Little Do-ers program will expand from one day a week to two- and three-day enrollment options. As a growing number of schools discover educational resources available through the DoSeum, the museum is positioning itself as a space that is more than a beautiful place to play, and the kind of laboratory that helps kids make a connection between fun and learning. Through the expansion of pre-school programming, families can begin to utilize those same resources to give their children a robust educational foundation.
*Top Image: Moira tests the water at an outdoor exhibit. Photo by Scott Ball.