All they do is play?? – Developmental learning and your child

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood” — Fred Rogers

Have you ever wondered what your children do at preschool all day? This blog post will tell you about the way we approach learning at TPK. As a bonus – if you have ever wondered what the difference between Pre-K and Kindergarten is, we’ll tell you at the end!

Children are born with a desire to learn. We are made in our Creator’s image with an innate desire to know, to create, to imagine and to develop concepts. Children learn best when given the opportunity to not just hear information but connect with tangible material that allows them solidify their learning through play. It is how they process the world around them and gain social and emotional skills and confidence.


How do our teachers plan activities for your child?

At TPK, we talk a lot about what is “developmentally appropriate” – that means learning that takes place as a normal part of cognitive development. Teachers combine knowledge of developmentally appropriate activities with observation of their students’ abilities and needs, and then create activities that support learning at that developmental stage.

Children learn in differing manners and our teachers present new concepts in multiple ways to accommodate differing learning styles. They seek to keep the children within their optimal learning zone where they have some challenge as they work on mastering new skills and concepts, but not to the point of frustration. We create classrooms that have differentiated instruction so all children can access the material and provide needed supports that vary from one child to another so all can be successful.

Our teachers plan together and exchange ideas and resources using a thematic based curriculum so children can see how new learning concepts work together in life. We look God’s beautiful creation and his purpose for creating as we unpack new concepts with the children.

What is my child learning during centers?

Centers are different activities around the classroom. Some centers are open-ended and very child-led; others have a defined objective within the curriculum or are more teacher-led. Centers use a variety of materials and engage multiple skills and senses. Children are learning may things simultaneously when playing with different toys and equipment.

Let’s take the blocks center as an example. When a child is building with blocks, this looks like play, but consider the skills that child is developing in the blocks center:

  • Cause and effect
  • How to play cooperatively
  • How to accommodate the play idea of my friend as well as my own
  • How to use my imagination
  • How to problem solve (tower is falling!)
  • Predict outcomes
  • Measurement (taller than, shorter than, wider than, heavier than)
  • Mathematical language
  • Spatial awareness
  • How to plan and execute an idea
  • Order by size
  • Effect of gravity and balance


Throughout any preschool day your child is learning social skills.

One of the greatest gifts we can offer young children is learning how to identify and process their own emotions and develop healthy social interactions. We are work on helping your child respond appropriately to these questions they have:

  • What do I do if I have to wait for a toy that I want?
  • What do I do if someone takes a toy from me that I am playing with?
  • How do I sit at circle time giving enough space for my friends?
  • How do I listen to my friends and take turns in conversation?
  • How do I work on a project with a friend using some of my ideas and some of theirs?
  • What do I do when I feel frustrated or mad?
  • What do I do if I feel sad?
  • How can I help my friend if they feel sad?
  • What do I do if I am not done playing but the bell sounds and I am supposed to come line up?

These are situations that children will need to be able to respond to throughout their time in school – and that we as adults need to respond to in our daily lives. Preschool is a great time to start to learn these skills!


Let’s talk for a minute about Kindergarten and Pre-K – two classes we offer at TPK. We are often asked the difference between the two.

What’s the difference between Pre-K and Kindergarten?

Our Pre-K program at TPK is designed for those children who have completed a 4 year old program and are Kindergarten eligible but would benefit from another year of hands on learning in a play based environment to develop further academic or social/emotional skills in order to enter Kindergarten with more confidence and skill.

Our Kindergarten program incorporates all the Virginia Standards of Learning for Kindergarten. Our objectives include literature, math, science, social studies, art, music, and physical education; we approach them from a developmental perspective. Literacy instruction involves phonics and whole language strategies. Science and math programs are designed to involve concrete, hands-on activities for learning.

5 reasons to consider Kindergarten at TPK

  1. Continuation of Christ-centered curriculum and family oriented classroom experience while your child is at a higher developmental level to consider more abstract thought and concepts about God’s love and His purposes in His creation.
  2. Favorable student-teacher ratio of 6:1
  3. Unique “specials” including presentation of the Nativity Play for kindergarten students only.
  4. Competitive and thorough curriculum that equips your child for 1st grade with more individualized teacher instruction.
  5. The continuation of this TPK family


It is our goal that your child and your family experience a loving and rich learning environment here at TPK knowing that we are made by our loving God who has a beautiful plan and purpose for us and all He has created and your child will see themselves and others through the lens of His love.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”- Jeremiah 29:11

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