Play is one of the main ways in which children learn and develop, especially during the early childhood years. Kids 360° Early Learning Academy, a new preschool opening in fall 2022 in Westfield, recognizes the importance of play and movement and has created a movement-based academic preschool with a curriculum that develops healthy bodies and brains. A different kind of preschool “There was a need for a different kind of preschool that meets the foundational needs for a child to learn,” says Matt Martin, director of Kids 360° Early Learning Academy. “Movement and learning through play are foundational. Our curriculum is play-based with differentiated small-group instruction time for each student, incorporating sensory-motor integration and the eight senses.” Kids 360° Early Learning Academy will be housed inside a 37,000 square-foot facility at Grand Park in Westfield. Students will have access to gymnastics equipment, a designated ninja course, and much more. “Our kids will be jumping on trampolines, balancing on balance beams and wobble boards, hanging and swinging from bars, rolling, flipping, tumbling, tossing and catching bean bags, and so much more,” Martin says. Martin emphasizes that physical development and academic development often go hand in hand. “Your vestibular system — tiny muscles in the middle ear — are so important for visual and auditory processing, motor control, emotional regulation, and more,” he says. “Our intentional movement will target those muscles so our kids can unlock and reach their full potential.” Play is the cornerstone of learning, and Kids 360° Early Learning Academy takes that idea seriously. “For children, play is their work,” says Angie Berezny, lead teacher and program coordinator for Kids 360° Early Learning Academy. “When children are interested in a topic or subject and given the tools and materials they need to explore, they are more likely to develop skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, fine and gross motor skills, and the ability to build confidence in themselves.” Berezny says that some preschools have shifted their focus to academics over the years. “Research shows us that this approach is actually hurting our children’s literacy development in the long run, rather than being beneficial,” he says. “We want to get back to the basics, so to speak, and offer children the environment and opportunities they need and deserve at this age to thrive as a whole.” Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget has been quoted as saying, “When you teach a child something, you take away forever their chance of discovering it for themselves.” At Kids 360°, children are given the opportunity to discover a love of learning firsthand. “Children will have time all morning for open-ended, child-led activities that offer plenty of opportunities for self-discovery and pure joy,” Martin says. Quick Facts About Kids 360° Early Learning Academy \tEnrollment is open! Visit https://kids360preschool.com/ to learn more and enroll. \tThe 2022-23 school year begins on August 8. \tSchool hours are from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily. \tStudent-to-teacher ratio will be no greater than 8:1. Small group instruction will have a 4:1 ratio. \tKids must be between the ages of 3-5 by August 1 and fully potty trained. \tOrganic, healthy snack and lunch options will be provided.