"The philosophy behind our curriculum is that children learn best by doing. Learning is not just repeating what someone else says; it requires active thinking and experimenting to find out how things work and to learn first hand about the world in which we live. In their early years, children explore the world around them by using all five of their senses. In using real materials such as blocks and trying out their ideas, children learn about sizes, shapes, and colors, and they notice relationships between things (pre-math).
In time, they learn to use one object to stand for another. This is the beginning of symbolic thinking. For example, they might pretend a stick is an airplane or a block is a hamburger. These early symbols – the stick and the block – are similar in shape to the objects they represent. Gradually children become more and more able to use abstract symbols like words to describe their thoughts and feelings. They learn to “read” pictures, which are symbols of real people, places, and things. This exciting development is symbolic thinking, which takes place as children play.
Play provides the foundation for academic or “school” learning. It is the preparation children need before they learn highly abstract symbols, such as letters (which are symbols for sounds) and numbers (which are symbols for number concepts). Play enables us to achieve the key goals of our early childhood curriculum. Play is the work of young children
Excerpted from the preschool's website