Programming and Planning

What is Inquiry?

In our last post, we discussed the road to inquiry, detailing some of the steps that educators may take towards implementing lines of inquiry, or projects. But just what is inquiry learning, and why is it a feature of the educational programs at Flinders? Put simply, inquiry learning is a child-centred approach to learning, where children’s questions or interests become an ongoing focus for learning. Educators centre children’s questions or interests by providing a range of experiences, resources and texts that offer support or extension of ideas. Inquiry approaches recognise that children are active participants in their learning, which is fundamental to the image of children presented in the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF). This means that children have a right to make decisions about what they are learning. In Outcome 4, the EYLF states; Children develop a range of skills and processes such as problem solving, inquiry, experimentation, hypothesising, researching and investigating (p35) The EYLF further elaborates that educators support this learning when they; provide babies and toddler with resources that offer challenge, intrigue and surprise, support their investigations and share their enjoyment provide opportunities for involvement in experiences that support the investigation of ideas, complex concepts and thinking, reasoning and hypothesising encourage children to make their ideas and theories visible to others (p35) Through engaging in inquiry, children develop skills closely associated with scientific thinking, but learning in early childhood is not limited to particular content areas. Children’s learning is fundamentally holistic and intertwined; the scientific skills developedRead more

The Road to Inquiry

As the weeks pass, the dust begins to settle from the busy-ness of the transition period. Children, families and educators are coming to know one another and find ways of embracing commonalities and differences. Houses are finding rhythm as we step forwards, backwards and sideways, dancing our way through the days. The first step in becoming a community of learners is to establish responsive, respectful and reciprocal relationships, as we discussed in the three previous blogs; Beginning with Relationships, Building Relationships  – What does it look like? and Building Relationships – Connecting with peers. As these relationships emerge, educators begin to look more closely at children’s interests, wonderings and curiosities. Beginning with what children are doing, educators document and record patterns of interests. Where do children play? What do they play with? How do they play with it? Who are they playing with? These initial recognitions form the basis for programs as they help educators decide what resources to put out, where to put them, and what to add to them. So, if a group of children are interested in painting, educators might continue to offer painting, but ensure there is a variety of paint types available over the course of the month, like acrylic, watercolour, poster or tempera. On the surface, this offering of resources constitutes a play-based, child-led program. But The Early Years Learning Framework invites educators to go further, encouraging educators to engage in “intentional teaching” and practices of assessment that help us to understand what isRead more

Environmental Planning

Programming at Flinders is framed by the Early Years Learning Framework and the centre philosophy, and is deeply rooted in play. Generally speaking, programming draws on children’s interests, key learning areas, and is specific to the context. So the Baby House program will look different to the Sturt House program, but there will be consistent and recognisable themes or ideas through both. The programs at Flinders are typically based on two key and intersecting areas; environments and interactions (provocations). Today we will talk about the environmental aspects of the program, and next time we will talk about interaction and provocation. We believe that children learn best through resourcing their own learning and having access to a range of different resources and spaces. This belief is based on Waldorf and Steiner theories of education, Vygotsky’s theory of children as actively engaged in their own learning, and the Reggio Emilia approach. When you pull different elements of each of these key theories together, the value of the physical environment is emphasised and everything from the colour of the walls to the volume of the music playing becomes significant. When we are planning for children’s learning (programming), we consider all aspects of the environment. Some things, like the colour of the walls, are mostly fixed, and require long term negotiations to change. Other things, like the music that is playing, the books and resources that are available, and how these are presented, are flexible and can change on a daily (even hourly) basis.Read more