Living in Los Angeles, there isn’t a lot of experience with rain. However, the last few months have had a number of rainy days. Usually parents like to keep their children inside to keep them dry during these days, but at La Playa Cooperative we go outside when it rains. We know that this is where a lot of joy and learning takes place. This is the nature of a play based preschool.
On this particular day, our friends were having a great time outside. They laughed, smiled, squealed with delight as the rain splashed on their faces. This is the kind of unabashed joy that is synonymous with childhood. Our friends had a great time exploring our back yard puddles!! And when there is fun to be had it attracts children to it.
Seeing our friends connect with each other through laughter, rain, and puddles was so rewarding for me. As a long time teacher of young children, I know that learning happens whenever joy is present.
It also filled me with delight to see the 3 boys who were laughing out loud as one of them kept sitting down in the puddle. Logan was enjoying the feel of soaking wet pants. His friends saw him and thought he needed help getting up, so they each took hold of one of his hands and pulled him up. As soon as he was up, he sat right back down into the puddle. In this interaction you could see the kindness of children wanting to help their friend get up because it looked like he fell. One of the friends, Jaydon, said to his mom, “Mom, he slipped in the water!” Then he turned to his friend and said, “Don’t worry Pal!” then got ahold of Logan’s hand and pulled him up. Once they were all standing, the puddle splashing continued. Their feet stomped in the water as they watched it splash all around them.
Wyatt had been standing on the sidelines watching this whole play scene happen. He was patiently waiting for his turn in the puddle. This was great practice at waiting. Delayed gratification is not always the strength of preschoolers but, when there is the right motivation, it happens easily. Play provides the right motivation to practice life skills. This is why I love a play-based environment for preschoolers. They naturally learn in a way that is enjoyable.
Once Wyatt got his turn in the huge puddle, he stomped his way through it, and then he took off running. He had been spending a lot of time running through the rain, feeling the rain pelt his face and head. Earlier in the day I had placed his jacket hood on his head on two different occasions. Each time he would step back, shake his head so his hood would fall, and then run across the yard smiling a big smile. He seemed to want to feel the rain on his head. It feels different when you’re running than when you’re walking in the rain. He got to feel both experiences.
Later in the day Sofia came outside with her raincoat on and her umbrella open. Her umbrella was made of clear plastic. As she walked around the yard the rain fell on it making a distinct sound. She stopped often to watch the rain falling onto her umbrella. It kept her attention for a long time. She was transfixed by the splashes that continually happened above her head. Observations are how we begin to learn to make sense of our world. Her exploration of rain has just begun.
Learning is acquiring new information and storing it in the memory. Preschool-aged children in Southern California experiencing rain are having fairly new experiences. These opportunities for play are chances for children to learn more about the world around them which will inevitably help them navigate through life.
*Names have been changed protect their identity.