A central belief of Early Childhood Education Ethiopia is concerned with providing children the space, time, and encouragement to exercise their imagination. Children are interested and invested in their surroundings. They explore, test, challenge, and discover all the wonders in their immediate environment at first, and use these early experiences to build, venture out and gain advanced knowledge systems from a structured learning environment in primary grades. While play remains the most effective tool for all the domains of development, the environment which includes, teachers, peers, and other adults influence how children engage in imaginative play. Children’s involvement with the natural world is unique, they find everyday items overlooked by adults to build, mix, make noise and create. A worm slithering on the ground leaving prints from its movement ignites the young mind to ask, how can a small animal leave such a trail behind? 

Children at Shimmbit preschool  program in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia
     Allowing, encouraging, and celebrating children’s use of their outside environment to explore, is the beginning of the scientific inquiry. Sticks become small infrastructure, representing a bridge they crossed or saw in a book, lending themselves for future aspirations. Looking at ants marching in a uniformed line serves as the genesis for railway or structural engineers. Collaboration, listening to what friends say and how they add to the product, including finding out what makes the design work or break, allows children to test how things operate in their world. Learning is a continuous attempt of trials and errors. A hands-on experience where the child is actively contributing to her or his learning serves as the most productive medium for retaining knowledge. 

Group of children playing with sticks found in the yard

What can teachers, parents, and community members do?

Learning happens everywhere, every day, and every minute for the growing child. As previously mentioned interacting with nature, spending time outside, and allowing children to explore the environment serves as the building blocks for lifelong learning. Parents interested in children’s creations add immeasurable value to children’s curiosity and learning. Invite children to explain their thinking, and share how you played as a child, emphasizing its similarity of differences. Join them in their play without judging or minimizing their efforts. Teachers, and fellow children’s interests, add to it and become learners of students’ patterns of inquiry and exploration. Show genuine joy in their play by engaging, observing, and integrating it into the curriculum. 

“Creativity is Intelligence Having Fun” Albert Einstein



First Community Preschool Project: https://youtu.be/wfOwnmXKN7M