Monthly Archives: September 2012

Professional Practice Feedback

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Professional Practice Experience

Professional Practice 1
0-2 year old room, 20 days completed between March/May 2010
Blyth Street Early Learning Centre 62 Blyth street Brunswick 93871111

“Catherine interacts well with the children and takes the time to engage in play and experiences. She demonstrated a broad knowledge and understanding of child development”. Megan Mitchell (mentor and director)

Professional Practice 2
3-5 year old sessional kindergarten, 20 days completed between July/Sept 2011
Brunswick Kindergarten 61 Glenlyon road Brunswick 93808948

“Catherine has always shown much consideration for parents/children and staff. She is also a very independent teacher; able to show initiative and energy” Catherine Hingley (mentor and director)

 Professional Practice 3
3-5 year old sessional kindergarten, 20 days completed between Oct/Nov 2011
Doris Blackburn Preschool 20 Woodlands Avenue Pascoe Vale south 93861337

“Catherine could quickly identify children’s interests and extend on their ideas and consistently recorded observations that were used in her planning of future activities and experiences.”Pam Roberts (mentor and director)

 

Masquerade parade

Playing Snakes and Ladders

Group time stories

 

A More In depth Look at my Important Values

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What are the benefits of a play based approach?

Play provides the most natural and meaningful process by which children can construct knowledge and understandings, practice skills, immerse themselves naturally in a broad range of literacy and numeracy and engage in productive, intrinsically motivating learning environments” (Walker, 2007, as cited in Cole, 2010. P 20)

                A play based approach to learning is logical when you understand what is learnt through children’s play. The idea behind a play based program is that it is child initiated, where children can draw on their everyday experiences and environments in their play. When children draw from familiar settings they are more likely to engage fully and potentially take risks, hence the self initiated learning experiences. Children find play pleasurable, so when they are allowed to initiate play they are more motivated to learn and develop positive dispositions towards learning (Cole, 2010). 

                A good play based program sets children up with valuable skills and positive attitudes towards learning that can benefit them throughout life. They learn to become confident and motivated as they have the power to make decisions, which then leads to a greater understanding of responsibility and self regulation (Cole, 2010). As they use investigation as a means to experience their social worlds they start to learn about relationships, they develop problem solving skills, reasoning and lateral thinking; learn communication strategies and how to work collaboratively (Cole, 2010). On a more academic level they develop literacy, numeracy and scientific concepts naturally, as they are embedded in the play the same way they see it in their community and immediate surroundings (Arthur, Beecher, Death, Dockett & Farmer, 1993). With so much learning going on all the while enjoying themselves it is an obvious principle value when reflecting on my approach to teaching and it speaks for itself as to why most early learning environments run play based programs.

How does collaboration promote learning?

“Collaborative partnerships between families, educators, children and communities mean that there is an exchange of information between partners rather than the one-way transmission of knowledge and information from educators to other parties” (Hughes and MacNaughton, 2002 as cited in Arthur & al. 1993. P 21)

                Collaborative practices are not only there as part of a reflective practice nor are they the simple fact of communicating children’s development to the immediate family. They have a much broader use and benefit to all who participate. Socio-cultural theorists have explored how children learn through interactions with their families and communities; how they observe the familiar daily processes, concepts and practices that are important to their community (Arthur & al. 1993). It would be poor practice on my part not to explore, value and draw on this wealth of information in helping me understand an individual child’s needs and learning.  It is also my responsibility to make every family welcome in their child’s early learning setting and to facilitate the exchange of information through respect and reciprocity.

                Collaborating with the children is also essential. Through exchanging ideas about their interests, ideas and asking questions, which is all essentially good play based practice, I will be able to include the children in the future direction of my programming.  It is important to give family members and children a voice and a role in decision making as a means to creating learning communities (Arthur & al. 1993).

Why is reflective practice essential?

“Dispositions are combinations of being ready, being willing and being able that emerge from learning experiences which occur often and which are supported, recognised and highlighted” (Carr, 2001)

                It is easy to misinterpret documentation and reflective practices as purely assessment in early childhood education, and although these practices are forms of assessment they are also used for a lot more. For my own practice, documentation is a means to devise goals, techniques and learning experiences for the children (MacNaughton & Williams, 2008).  Documentation is done as a reflection of my own practice; to make me more aware of what the children are learning and how I can further support it, further more it is said that the documentation process is embedded in the learning process as a trigger for further learning (MacNaughton & Williams, 2008).

                The act of documenting and reflecting on the children’s work also benefits the children in various ways. It shows that educators take the children seriously and excites their interest in their own learning (Malaguzzi, 1993 as cited in MacNaughton & Williams, 2008, p 258), thus stimulating a positive disposition to learning as described in the above Carr quote. Reflective practice is also a great means to working collaboratively as it opens up the dialogue with other staff and the families and many perspectives leads to a more non biased interpretation of the children’s learning. Reflective practices are very much a means to strengthen my own teaching practices and I encourage the participation of the children, thus demonstrating a shared learning experience.

When is outdoor play learning?

“There is little that happens indoors that cannot happen outdoors, but the outdoors may provide opportunities for experiences that cannot be duplicated indoors” (Dau, 2005, as cited in Outdoor Play, Royal Children’s Hospital, 2007)

                The importance of outdoor play has been diminishing over time, partly due to our busy lifestyles and a new sense of over precaution on the part of parents and childcare centres. There are the more discussed health and wellbeing benefits of physical outdoor play, helping to balance the physical and mental development so abundant in these early years. Yet we are often so focused on the gross motor skills learnt in an outdoor setting that some of the other benefits are overlooked. There are a broad range of skills and learning discoveries that are gained through time spent exploring our natural world and the outdoors provides a special place with hidden spaces for imagination and contemplation (Royal Children’s Hospital, 2007).

                Not only having outdoor time but also spending it playing in quality natural play space helps to create competent, curious and imaginative learners. Successful play environments also provide abundant sensory stimulation and appeal (Shipley, 2008), which are essential learning in these early years and outdoor play creates learners who have respect and an understanding for their natural world and environment.

I would like to think that all the values listed in my philosophy are already in use, but some are still new or I had not critically reflected on them before, some examples are the following:

                 Through this course and through watching my own child I have really gained an understanding that the early childhood years are unique. We are often is such a hurry for our kids to grow up and so worried that they will not succeed in life that these early years are only seen as stepping stones to later years. In fact the early childhood years are such an amazing time in our life and so full of wonder and discoveries that they are not stepping stones but rather shape our later years. I have really learnt in my practice to step back, observe and share in this wonder. We seem to think it is our job to teach the children rather than let them guide us, and through observation I now see that the children are quite competent at learning on their own when given the right environments and opportunities. I have a better understanding early childhood as a unique developmental period that is be approached with values and teaching that is separate from later education techniques.

                Children are inertly motivated, they are competent and capable. This is something that I have always believed in but I have now been given techniques to use that in my practice. When you learn to focus on the positive and what a child can do, they feel so much more confident and valued that they want to continue demonstrating this behaviour. Creating a positive, stimulating and reciprocating environment permits everyone to engage in interesting interactions and the whole community reaps the rewards. Through positive documentation such as learning stories, I have learnt how to put this positive perspective into concrete use.

                The benefits of open-ended materials have really opened my eyes as to how children learn. I was often frustrated with my own child’s lack of attention span or uninterest in supposed ‘stimulating toys’.  I have seen the benefits of open-ended resources first hand, such as natural materials, everyday house hold objects and anything that reflects one’s own personal values and community. This could be a piece of string, or a collection of toilet rolls! Giving young learners the opportunity to use their imagination and their daily experiences in how they manipulate materials gives them so many learning experiences that cannot be duplicated when trying to force feed them with a closed activity.  If we don’t go back to this more natural approach to early childhood learning we are going to encourage the idea of the hurried child.

                I hope to have demonstrated a sound beginning to my personal teaching philosophy and I have come to accept that it will never be truly finished or defined as it is fluid and constantly changing as it should be under a solid reflective practice.

  Resources

Arthur, L. Beecher, B. Death, E. Dockett, S. Farmer, S. 1993, Programming & Planning, in Early Childhood Settings 4th ed, VIC, Cengage Learning.

Carr, M. 2001, Assessment in Early Childhood Settings, Learning Stories, London, SAGE Publications.

Cole, D. 2010, Play Based Learning, Community Child Care Term 1.

MacNaughton, G & Williams, G. 2008, Teaching Young Children: Choices in theory and practice, England, Open University Press.

Royal Children’s Hospital. 2007, Childcare and children’s health, outdoor play. Vol 10 No 2 June.

Shipley, D. 2008, Empowering Children, play-based curriculum for lifelong learning 4th ed, USA, Nelson Education

Review of Science Works Nitty Gritty Super City

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Contact details and description of organisation

Science works (part of Museum Victoria)

Science works and Melbourne Planetarium 2 Booker Street, Spotswood VIC 3015.

Phone: 03 9392 4800. It can be followed on Facebook and Twitter.

Open daily 10am -4:30pm daily.

Adult $10 children (3-16) and concession free (temporary exhibitions extra)

Nitty Gritty Super City

                Children are ‘natural’ scientists, who endlessly explore, investigate, experiment and ask questions (Young & Elliott, 2003), Science works embraces this idea and in particularly the Nitty Gritty Super City exhibition where 3 to 8 year olds can explore science in the city. It is an interactive permanent exhibition set in a mini city; divided into 10 city themed sections where through play, children develop the science process skill of observation, classification and communication (Museum Victoria, 2009). A self guided kinder program is available, 1 hour of learning about science processes and communication for a maximum of 60 children with an $11 booking fee. (10 posters are sent out after booking with photos, learning outcomes, pre-visit questions, post-visit questions and things to do during the visit to maximise the learning benefit of this excursion, see appendix for example)

                Disabled access includes tactile experiences for the blind and low vision visitors in the Nitty Gritty Super City, tactile indicators in the lift to access the exhibition space and wheel chair access and use available.

 Reflection

                To enter the Nitty Gritty Super City you have to cross a bridge and go through a child proof security gate; there is one at each end of the exhibition and the space is upstairs set apart from the other exhibitions, thus encouraging parents to let their children roam freely around the space. This openness also reflects on the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework’s outcome four: children are confident and involved learners when they are given the possibility to be actively involved in their own learning, helping them to build on their understanding of concepts, creative thinking and inquiry process needing for the rest of their lifelong learning (Department of Education, 2009).
                 Upon entering the space you can see it has been designed differently from the rest of Science works, exhibits are lower down, the focus is the doing and not reading about it, (although there is natural signage imbedded in the exhibition) and children are encouraged to explore the space at their own pace and self guided. There is a large road running from one end to the other to introduce you to the city theme, with the large town hall clock in the middle. The different sections are spread out on both sides of the road with good spacing and flow from one area to the next. Overall it is a very inviting space for young children, with hidden areas and rooms to explore along with a more open plan central space (see appendix 1).

‘The beauty of exploration or ‘scientific play’ is its responsiveness to children’s immediate concerns and interests, promoting excitement, awe and wonder thus encouraging the curiosity the need to become active scientists’ ( Davies & Howe, p 121, 2003)

                When I visited this exhibition I went with 2 four year old boys and I was curious to see which of the 10 areas they would be interested in and would they understand the learning objectives that were aimed at in these spaces. There were 3 sections that they spent most of their time; the ‘build it’ and ‘getting around’ space and also in the ‘cafe’ area, I would like to focus my reflection on these 3 areas; how they relate to the learning outcomes set in the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework, and then give a brief overview of the others 7 spaces.

 Exhibition sections

Build it

                This exhibit includes activities such as: choose the right tool, build an arch bridge, build a sculpture, lift the bucket, lift a pile of bricks, build a wall and drive the digger.

                This was one of the most popular sections on the day I visited and I saw both the parents and children really getting a lot out of this space. There were a number of activities that worked best when the children worked and played together encouraging their interpersonal development. There was a lot of technology learning explored through simple machines and tool use and it also had some great examples and simple demonstrations of how pulleys, wheels and levers worked. The build it area helps develop children’s sense of autonomy and agency through encouraging both physical and mental challenges, facilitating new discoveries and furthering children’s sense of identity as explored in the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework (Department of Education, 2009). This area was very popular to the boys due to its construction site theme and it would have been nice to make it a little bit more inviting to both sexes.

Get around

                This area involves activities including: move that cargo, wheel and rudder, hoist a flag, inspect the cargo and a penny farthing bike.

                There is an excellent boat the ‘Little Yarra’ in this space that introduces a number of nautical themes and vocabulary to children in a fun and interactive way. It explores the different parts of the boat including the rudder, the ship’s flag and the loading and unloading of cargo. It generated a lot of pirate play and adventures on the sea the day that I visited, helping to develop the children’s linguistic abilities and vocabulary (see appendix 2). This area is also really interesting for the kinaesthetic involvement of the children in activities that children would not normally be allowed to play such as the loading and unloading of cargo on a ship. It was also excellent with its exciting and challenging learning experiences giving the children a real sense of achievement and perseverance to have a go thus promoting a sense of wellbeing (Department of Education, 2009).

Cafe

                This section includes a cafe with kitchen and counter, a Pianola, what is it made from? exploration boxes (see appendix 3) and1960s food advertising posters.

                This is another example of allowing the children control in a tactile play that they would not usually be allowed to explore. In this cafe the children are allowed behind the counter and put in control of how they perceive runs a coffee shop. The counter and kitchen accessories have been lowered to a child appropriate height so they feel a lot more at ease in this space. Everything is at an accessible level and in fact it is the parents that look out of place. There are unlimited possibilities for the children to act out and reflect on what they have seen in their own coffee shop experiences. The children I had with me took great pleasure in taking orders from behind the counter and playing with the coffee machine, this play helps them towards developing a sense of community, participating collaboratively in a familiar routine and having the opportunity to contribute to decisions (Department of Education) There was even a moment of cultural awareness with my son offering my husband a croissant as he is French!

                I felt the variety and quality of the pretend food was a bit of a negative and as much as I liked the educational aspect of the ‘what is it made from? exploration boxes where children learnt where food came from and not the supermarket, unfortunately the children I was with were so enthusiastically involved in the cafe they did not really show any interest in them.

Look out

                A space that includes views of the Westgate Bridge, exploring other bridges and a spot the difference game. This area explores a common children’s interest of bridges and being able to observe the workings of the Westgate just out of the window using binoculars is a great example of mathematical exploration along with spatial learning.

Melbourne model

                A large LEGO model of the CDB and inner suburbs that using lights one can highlight particular landmarks around the city. It is a great way to explore the concepts of maps and help children to understand the layout of a city and situate themselves within it.

Town hall clock

                The clock has both face and hands and digital clock

Recyclatron

                Exploring themes such as: what can be recycled? Inside the recycling factory, how magnets move steel, sorting paper; separating small from big, using air to sort light from heavy and why recycling is useful. This section offers a very tactile approach to learning about recycling and learning about environmental issues.

Music bowl

                Join the band, children learn about the sounds of different instruments and through making music, high and low notes are explored using different sized instruments

Creatures

                A section to explore everything creature including: animal evidence: who has been here? Night sounds, microscopic views, a log crawl through, bird spotting in Melbourne and mini-beasts. Using senses children explore the animal world, listening, observing and categorising. 

Weather station

                Here children can make a weather report, make a weather story, learn about weathers sayings and how we measure weather.

Pre and post visit activities

                Simply providing a set of resources within a stimulating environment is not enough. There needs to be a planned sequence and the value of any experience should also be judged on its potential for future pathways (Davies & Howe, 2003). The Nitty Gritty Super City experience is a great way to approach science, technology and environment learning for early childhood education and as I previously reflected on 3 areas within the exhibition and I would now like to revisit them with some pre and post visit questions and activities.

Build it pre-visit and post visit ideas

  • What tools can you find at home?
  • What things can you build using tools?
  • The inclusion of wheelbarrows in the outdoor area
  • Providing lots of tool based materials, such as tools, screws and bolts
  • Scales with different types of weight materials
  • Simple pulleys
  • Lots of building block materials
  • Gadget and loose material boxes
  • Exploring how simple machines work, their insides
  • Cubby materials
  • Exploring construction sites
  • How do boats float?
  • Where do boats go?
  • How can we travel?
  • How did we travel before cars and planes?
  • Lengths of rope
  • Flag making materials
  • Map making
  • Water play with boats
  • Different modes of transport
  • Where can we go if we don’t want to eat at home?
  • What’s the difference between a cafe and a restaurant?
  • What do you do in a cafe?
  • Who works in a cafe?
  • Various cooking activities both real and pretend indoor and outdoors
  • Kitchen utensils
  • Play dough, clay and other tactile materials
  • Cash registers and money play
  • Exploring healthy food, processed, raw, growing food etc.

Get around pre-visit and post-visit ideas

  • How do boats float?
  • Where do boats go?
  • How can we travel?
  • How did we travel before cars and planes?
  • Lengths of rope
  • Flag making materials
  • Map making
  • Water play with boats
  • Different modes of transport

Cafe pre-visit and post-visit ideas

  • Where can we go if we don’t want to eat at home?
  • What’s the difference between a cafe and a restaurant?
  • What do you do in a cafe?
  • Who works in a cafe?
  • Various cooking activities both real and pretend indoor and outdoors
  • Kitchen utensils
  • Play dough, clay and other tactile materials
  • Cash registers and money play
  • Exploring healthy food, processed, raw, growing food etc. 

Conclusion

                “Our job as a practitioner is to select the ‘best’ time and words to use in encouragement and challenge” to help guide children to develop their investigative skills (Davies & Howe, p 121, 2003).Science works and The Nitty Gritty Super City have tried to facilitate the development of children’s investigative skills and a visit to Science works offers an endless amount of pre and post visit activities for good quality early childhood development. It ignites and stimulates children’s interests in both familiar and new challenges but due to its self guided layout and as with any good ‘interactive’ approach it should be used in conjunction with educator’s input, where both the educator and child have an active role in facilitation learning (Young & Elliott)

References

 

Davies, D and Howe, A. (2003) Teaching Science, Design and Technology in the Early Years, London : David Fulton.

Department of Education and Early Childhood Development . (2009). Victorian Early Years Learning and development Framework. Melbourne: Early Childhood Strategy Division, Department of Education and Early Childhood Development , and Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority.

Museum of Victoria. (2009) Nitty Gritty Super City Education Kit, An Adventure with Science and Technology for Young Learners. Victoria, Science works.

Young, T and Elliott, S. (2003) Just Investigate! Science and Technology Experiences for Young Children. Croydon VIC, Tertiary Press.

The Café – modelling from real life experiences

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Through dramatic play children learn to live interdependently with others and within different environments. By participating collaboratively in everyday events and experiences and contributing to decision making, children become increasingly connected with and contribute to their world (outcome 2, VEYLDF).

Jack wrote his own menu

The Spider – An investigation by children as a Project Approach

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Phase 1: Beginning the Project

                During one morning as the children moved about the various indoor activities on offer, suddenly there was a lot of noise and commotion from one corner. “A spider”, “a spider”!! There on one of the children’s chairs was a small dark spider. The kids gathered around to get a closer look and a few to try and get in and pick it up. We carefully put the spider into a small observation container and up onto a table and then continued on with our day. Throughout the morning the children went from their activities over to the container to have another look or to show someone who had not yet seen it. Later in the morning, Inez came over to the spider with a drawing of a spider web she had done. We decided to put the drawing into the container with the spider, very quickly it was hiding under it. This generated a discussion about where spiders live; the children were not sure and wanted to put it in the plastic castle outside. We talked about where they had seen spiders before and I brought out a book about insects and looked at different natural environments and where they lived. This is what started the idea to build a spider’s house.

                By now the play had moved outdoors and we had put the spider on an outside table with some magnifying glasses alongside an insect habitat book. The children decided to go off and collect some different materials from the garden to put in with the spider. Once the spider was settled into his new home of sticks, sand and leaves it could no longer be seen in the container and interest waned. I thought that might be the end of the project but in fact many of the children wandered off and continued the project on their own, here are some of the extensions they did:

  • Alex wandered off on his own and started to build the spider a new home for when we were ready to let it out at the end of the session. He worked on this house for most of the session adding sticks, leaves, and eventually some coloured ribbon he found, winding it around different bushes.
  • Brook and Inez carried the spider around the garden ‘looking after it’ and together they decided to call the spider ‘crawly’ because it can crawl.
  • Alex took a magnifying glass and explored looking for others spiders to be crawly’s mum and dad!
  • Kaitlin came outside with the sparkles from an inside activity to decorate around the spider house that Alex built.
  • Lolita came out from inside with a flag that she had made, she put it into the trees where Alex had made the house. On the flag she had drawn a spider and some food for it.

                This part of the project came to an end when the spider was let out by some of the other children. They had let it go in a pot plant and were trying to find it again with a magnifying glass! Alex was very understanding of this and decided to look for another spider for his house. He settled on a worm from the compost and happily settled it into its new home.

                There was clearly a genuine interest in all things spiders from a number of the children but I was still unsure as to what interested them about this subject and what they really wanted to know and explore. For some of the children there seemed a strong interest in the searching for and observing and for others it was more about the habitat and building spider houses. I wanted to set up some different activities to try and better understand their interest and really understand what they wanted to know about spiders.

Phase 2: Developing the Project

Through various activities I set up I wanted to get a better idea of what the children might be interested in knowing about spiders, this is what I did:

*A musical group time, exploring all the spider songs and games we knew. The children took turns being Miss Muffet and the other children trying to scare her off her tuffet!

A Spider Habitat Table

A Spider Inspired Easel

A Group Spider ‘Web’ to explore all things spiders!

I was hoping the spider ‘web’ would help define the project and it did but not at all in the way had I imagined! I asked the children who were interested in the project so far to sit down with me on the mat and we would write down what we knew and anything we wanted to know about spiders on some big pieces of paper. As soon as they saw the paper on the floor, one child suggested we cover it with drawings of spiders, the others quickly agreed and they got to work! It made me realise they were not really interested in answering a particular question or finding out facts about spiders, they just wanted to explore all things spiders; sharing what they knew and exploring their ideas through different activities. This had also been confirmed with how they had enjoyed the experiences I had set up and how they continued searching for spiders when outdoors.

                I decided to let the project run its course and try to offer them different mediums by which they could explore their interest in spiders and bugs. Here are some other examples of how they explored spiders:

Looking at another spider on the roof with binoculars!

Oliver- ‘ I can see a spider’….’the spider has 9 legs’……’there is a bug next to the spider’….’it has spots’

‘Does it have red spots?’-Inez

‘Black spots’-Oliver

‘Great it’s not a Red back!’-Inez

‘It has red and black spots; it must be a Red back!’ Oliver

This discovery led to a fantastic session of reading factual spider books together in a small group. The children enjoyed hearing facts about spiders they knew the names of and sharing stories about their close up encounters with spiders.

*The children enjoyed manipulating and experimenting on their own with the spiders

This spontaneous installation was set up in the window right next to the door that leads to the other 4 year old room.

 

Phase 3: Concluding the Project

            This project never really came to an end as the children are still collecting specimens when outdoors but the obsession with spiders has now been extended to snails, worms and caterpillars. Just yesterday they had set up a snail race and converted the pull cart into a snail house!

                I wanted to find a way to really show them some of the amazing discoveries they had made over the last 2 weeks and just how much they had explored the subject of spiders. I decided to make up a poster with all the photos I had taken combined with some of the facts they had learnt about spiders. I deliberately left a large margin around the poster as I wanted them to be able to contribute to it too. I presented the poster to the whole group and asked those who were interested if they would like to do some drawings of spiders or other insects and cut them out and stick them around the poster to help me finish it; here is the my final activity of the Spider Project, but I know their project is nowhere near finished!

Teacher Reflection

                I went into this project thinking that there had to be a question or problem answered. I quickly realised that this predisposition could ruin what could be an amazingly in depth exploration of a subject that the children were genuinely interested in. Allowing the project to develop at its own pace and really following the children’s interest rather than trying to teach them their interest meant that this project became a meaningful exchanged of ideas, a reciprocated learning experience for all who were interested. I really enjoyed the freedom of this project and how each child explored the subject in a way that was meaningful to them. There was a lot of individual as well as small group activities going on at the same time and children felt comfortable to come and go from an activity as they pleases. I really felt as if the children went away from this project with a greater curiosity and desire to investigate further whatever interests come their way and this was the greatest result possible. I also really enjoyed my role in this project as a provider of materials and facilitator for exploring their ideas and I also have learnt to have a greater appreciation of spiders!

The Project Approach and Emergent Curriculum

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“I never teach my pupils. I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn”. Albert Einstein 1879-1955 (German physicist)

What is the Project Approach?

                The Project Approach is about listening to children’s interests and then running with a particular interest in the form of a project for as long as they stay engaged. It is an in-depth study of a particular topic that one or more children undertake (Katz and Chard, 2000, p 2, as in Koster, 2004). Once a theme, idea or question is established, the teacher provides the children with the necessary materials to investigate further, often using open-ended activities that allow the children to observe, sense, explore and experiment. A Project Approach is often associated with an emergent curriculum which is a curriculum that develops from exploring what is ‘socially relevant, intellectually engaging and personally meaningful to children’ (The Knight Hall school staff, 2006), thus using the Project Approach permits these learning goals to be achieved. . This type of learning is often self-initiated, ongoing and transferable to other learning situations.

                I think the teacher’s role is very much a facilitator; we are there to assist, guide and provide opportunities all the while being sensitive and caring without interfering (Early Childhood Education at Thompson Publishing, 2006). The project Approach is very much about process learning; exploring learning during the development of a project more so than creating a finished product. Process learning focuses on information discovered by the learner and is an independent and active learning that will lead to better skills at acquiring knowledge throughout life (Thompson Publishing).

Why use the Project Approach?

                The Project Approach engages children’s intellects by developing their knowledge and skills at their individual levels of understanding. Children become experts and in control of their own learning as they are in charge of finding information and using it in new ways. They can then be encouraged to reflect on and evaluate their personal contribution to a project and thus become accountable for their own learning.

                From a teacher’s perspective, the Project Approach challenges teachers to be creative and devise constructive solutions together with the children, creating a reciprocal learning experience.

References:

From Early Childhood Education at Thomson Publishing, retrieved 20 May 2006, http://webtoos.delmarlearning.com/sample_chapters/140187245X_ch1.pdf

Koster, JB 2004, ‘Integrating the curriculum’, Growing artists: teaching art to young children,3rd edn, Delmar Thomson Learning, Clifton Park, New York, ch 5, retrieved 20 June 2007, http://www.delmarlearning.com/resources/echapertersapril2004.pdf

From The KnightHallSchool, 2005. The KnightHallSchool, retrieved 16 October 2011http://knighthallschool.com/curriculum2.htm