by Lotus Bloom Social Media Intern, Evan Quan
Evan Quan is a sophomore at the University of California, Berkeley, pursuing a degree in Cognitive Science and Data Science. Evan has a demonstrated commitment to empowering and encouraging young people in counseling, STEM, and learning contexts. This commitment led him to the opportunity to staff a position of Social Media Intern at Lotus Bloom in the summer of 2020.
Over the course of his internship, Evan worked closely with content of Lotus Bloom's soon to be published Playgroup Curriculum. In the culminating project of the Social Media Internship, Evan introduces core learnings about the power of play and the invaluable role of care givers in supporting children's learning and fulfillment. Evan draws upon his own experiences working with youth to translate Lotus Bloom's evidence-based practices for a fresh and encouraging take on early childhood education and child development.
When we think of play, it can be imagined as a chaotic free for all--children yelling, cardboard and crayons strewn everywhere, a scene most families are already used to. However, with the support of caregivers and parents, play can be so much more than chaos! Play is a way to empower and develop young children. From ages 0-5 and even beyond that, play is the primary way children are able to learn mentally, physically, and emotionally. When supported, play can foster an environment where children are able to cooperate and create together, turning something routine and boring like math into an exciting project to tackle.
Creating an innovative routine that asks the kids to focus on improvement not only lets them be more creative and differentiate their projects from other children, but also fosters part of their personality and inventive mindset that they can then direct that into what they are making. Some children I worked with would struggle to find their confidence in their project (a car with rubber band propelled motors) until we walked through what more they could do --whether that’s more wheels, different colors, or a spoiler was up to them!
Caregivers know that each child needs a different level of stimulation before they can work on their own. Some children may require you to lay down stepping stones before they feel ready, and others want to launch into the unknown as soon as possible! A study from the Developing Child Center at Harvard notes that asking open-ended questions can empower them with pride or open up a pathway where they feel confident enough to ask for help instead of sitting quietly(1). Many times, I’d sit down with a child and ask what their project does. And they’d proudly respond that their project could fly across the classroom or climb up all the way to the top of the cardboard mountain we had set up. Play is a stress reliever for many children while also enhancing education and child development. Participating in structured art, writing, and foam block areas can help children participate and interact with their peers while they foster their creativity at their own pace.
Overall, even the smallest moments with a child can make the difference in your interaction with them as a parent or as a caregiver! Children are perceptive and influenced by their peers and educators, so creating a back and forth communication to foster play and creativity becomes essential for healthy child development. Ultimately, it's not the expensive iPads or large textbooks but the understanding and bond between the caregiver and child that can make play so great and rewarding in the long run.
1 Play in Early Childhood: The Role of Play in Any Setting