Children grasp ideas most effectively and maintain their interest in learning best when they can connect what they’re learning with the world around them. To be engaged, learners must recognize the value in an activity and their own potential for success. Learning to be attentive, to engage actively and to think critically, cooperatively and creatively about meaningful experiences is as important to a child’s development as the particular skills or information acquired through completing a given task. When education is integrated across all subjects and areas of development, children are able to see how knowledge and skills in one area are relevant in other areas.
By studying themes, children take isolated facts and place them into meaningful and personally relevant contexts. These types of activities promote the development of concepts rather than unrelated facts and enhance children’s motivation, self-direction, divergent thinking and capacity to solve problems critically and creatively.
Play provides opportunities for children to learn in a context in which they are most receptive. Children must be engaged mentally to transform an activity to understanding and engaged emotionally to have long-lasting retention of what has been learned. Learners benefit from situations that challenge them to work just beyond the capacity that has already been developed and from plenty of opportunity to practice newly acquired skills. When learning is a process of collaboration and consultation with peers and adults it will create a climate of respect, success and joy.