How Totter’s Otterville fits into your child’s learning and early development
Remember the childhood thrill of field trips? Instead of spending the day glued to your chair, trying hard to stay awake and not fidget, your whole class was led like a row of ducklings onto a bright yellow bus that took you to a farm, park or historical site. You got to look and touch and hear about something you didn’t already know, maybe pretend you were an artist or a pioneer, or an astronaut. You didn’t fall asleep, and you didn’t fidget once. In fact, you felt excited about learning.
It was even, well, sorta fun! That, in a nutshell, is edutainment.
Giving your child the Freedom to Learn through Play
Research in early childhood development has clearly established that preschool children learn best through self-directed play, rather than in structured learning or academic-type settings. The designers of Totter’s Otterville recognized that open-ended play is nature’s process for children to learn and develop cognitively, emotionally, physically, and socially.
Young children are biologically programmed to explore and manipulate their surrounding world and to make their own discoveries. Their play is heavily based upon pretend or imaginary play with other children, as well as by themselves.
The Culture of Childhood is Changing
While the biology of childhood learning and development stay the same, changes in the physical and social environment in which children live has altered the culture of childhood. Factors like working parents, a concern for safety, and a stronger emphasis on structured education, has resulted in children’s lives becoming more controlled and physically restricted. No longer does Mom or Dad call out the back door to “be home by dark!” as the children ride away on their bikes to points unknown.
Today’s children spend much less time away from the direct supervision of adults. They lack frequent opportunity for free-form interaction with nature and other children, for natural experiences, and for unsupervised open-ended play.
Totter’s Otterville and Interactive Play
In interactive play, children are in charge. They’re empowered. They can vary their experiences from moment to moment and visit to visit. Play is how young children naturally learn about themselves, their world, and society.
At Otterville, the play areas include not only physically interactive environments such as climbing in the ball pit, and slides, but dozens of other activities from the art studio to water play to all forms of pretend. The careful design of each area leads to developmentally appropriate play that offers graduated challenges to children. This type of play is not overly defined, structured and themed. Instead, it is open-ended so children can use their imaginations to create their own play schemes. In this type of environment, children are rarely bored, and each new visit leads to the discovery of new facets of play
Bringing it all together in the “Edutainment” Center
From birth, children are wired to play. Totter’s Otterville offers children the tools they need to create their own magical worlds, where their imaginations rule, and they can develop their minds and bodies. It’s like what happens at Christmas when the children discard the latest expensive toy and spend the afternoon playing inside the box it came in, where the only special effects needed are a child’s imagination.
Care givers have the freedom at Otterville to participate as much, or as little as they desire in children’s play, knowing that the central seating area has a panoramic view of the various play environments. The professionally designed, safe play spaces recognize that all children are moving through different phases of their development.
There is water, animals, sand, and all types of open-ended play and chances to manipulate and create, to wonder and experiment, to pretend, to interact with other children, to celebrate the joy of childhood. Totter’s is a place where children experience the magic that is their biological birthright – the ability to learn through exploration, discovery, and the power of their own imaginations.