Disclaimer :: This post post contains content written by The Oakridge School to bring information to parents about its educational opportunities for children.
New research published in Mind, Brain, and Education stresses what many of us moms have known for ages: Child’s play is serious business that produces meaningful experiences and learning. The research centers on the innovative program, PlayWisely, which is now available in Tarrant County thanks to an exclusive partnership with The Oakridge School.
Passion for Little People
I’m a mom with three kiddos: Velvet, Boaz, and Elijah. I have a college degree in civil engineering, but my passion for little people and learning led me to PlayWisely. I have been working and playing there for the past 12 years. I want to tell you about this program from the perspective of a mom and as a PlayWisely master coach. My hope is that this will give you a good overview of the early childhood development system engaging families of all kinds, plus an understanding of what makes The Oakridge School the perfect host for this program.
Inspiring Play-Based Program
PlayWisely is a fun, inspiring, play-based program. It was born out of the heart of a science-loving mom looking for a well-rounded class for her young child that would exercise all of the exploding brain activity the sciences keep talking about.
The curriculum mirrors how the young brain wants (and needs) to learn and experience movement: clearly and quickly. The cognitive curriculum introduces children to shape, size, color, quantity, letters and sounds, and counting and amount. The PlayWisely find-it exercise (think Where’s Waldo, but for babies) gives children a focused opportunity to navigate their visual field and exercise visual discrimination in a fun way. The physical curriculum introduces the foundations of catching and throwing, balance, kicking, strength, fine motor, translation, striking, and rotation. Each week the physical activities allow children to observe how gravity acts on objects in the world, or to experience how gravity acts on the body. There is no substitute for experiencing gravity, profoundly affecting the form and function of human development.
Learning to Observe Your Child
As a mom, I loved seeing my babies experience PlayWisely. They started with the infant curriculum for babies ages six weeks to four months. It was incredible to watch their eyes and brains wake up to the world. It was great for me, too. I learned to observe not just the sitting, crawling, and walking, but also how well my child was reaching with her left and right hand. I got to see the first time she wanted to “show” me something by pointing her little finger.
PlayWisely played a pivotal role in how I observed my children and gave me many opportunities to celebrate new, sometimes overlooked, developmental milestones. Being a PlayWisely coach has been a gift, as well. I have never known a learning program for children zero to five years that is so engaging, fun, and inspiring.
During my first time coaching, I had a first-time dad who seemed uncertain of how to connect with his daughter. Then, on catching and throwing day, his little girl trapped every ball that came to her, slowly, up the incline mat. This is one example of how PlayWisely incrementally introduces skills using gravity. Afterward, the dad was beaming. His baby girl could catch, and he left bragging maybe she’d be a softball player one day! This is one small window into how PlayWisely inspires the parent-child bond and teaches parents new ways to play, learn, and connect with their children.
A New Direction
PlayWisely has been offered at The da Vinci School in Dallas for more than 15 years. Ask any teacher there and he or she will say that PlayWisely kids can be identified on the first day of class. It’s not a genius thing. It’s an air of confidence in how to navigate the environment and the materials put before them. PlayWisely offers parents a way to prepare children for learning environments like no other. It is a program that reaches below the rote memory of learning facts and gives young brains the exercise and experience needed to thrive in classrooms, on playgrounds, and at home. Read what the researchers found in their study published in Mind, Brain, and Education.
After years of success in Dallas County, PlayWisely spread its wings into Tarrant County. The Oakridge School, an independent, college preparatory school in Arlington began hosting PlayWisely in 2020. A good fit for PlayWisely, Oakridge understands how important the earliest of early childhood play and learning is. Educators at Oakridge are student centered and welcoming. Together, it’s navigating this challenging time to provide precious children with the talent, time, and resources needed to play, learn, and continue moving forward.
Get to Know the Programs
Current PlayWisely classes are available Saturday mornings at Oakridge. It would love for you to come and experience a free class. Each piece of equipment is sanitized between uses and each family receives a basket with its own set of equipment. PlayWisely is also offered online. A free virtual class via Zoom will be held on Saturday, December 19. Email [email protected] or visit www.playwisely.com.
The Oakridge School is now accepting applications for admissions. During the pandemic, it is offering learning for students on-campus and at-home. Email [email protected] to schedule a virtual tour of the campus or to connect with the office of admissions.