In Early Years, we know that children learn and develop best through play based learning opportunities. Problem solving and testing out ideas is a big part of the type of play based learning that we provide. So, how exactly do we achieve this at Dulwich College Shanghai Puxi?
Teachers spend a lot of time interacting and forming positive relationships with the children in their class. This helps us to find out more information about what children already know about, what ideas they have about the world around them and this then helps us to develop meaningful learning experiences which can sometimes lead to ‘projects’. A project can stem from a child or group of children’s questions, interests, ideas or an outside experience such as a trip. When teachers recognise a potential project, we are able to plan and provide meaningful experiences that allow children to explore and investigate their ideas in a very open-ended way.
There is no end goal for a project and sometimes projects can begin as one type of learning subject and change to another, according to what the children find out. The true learning comes from the process of sharing ideas collaboratively, testing out new thoughts or ideas and then reviewing what has happened. Projects can sometimes last a few days, a number of weeks or sometimes even longer! Teachers give children different ways to represent what they have learnt. Sometimes, projects are documented in books, on display boards, or as art forms. Loris Magaluzzi, a pedagogical theorist, claimed that children have one hundred ‘languages’ or one hundred ways that children can express, explore, and connect their thoughts, feelings and imaginings.
One example of a project in Nursery has been around ‘Living Things’. In Nursery, the class teachers noticed how engaged children were in the outdoor learning area and began to delve more deeply into what exactly children were doing outside. They noticed that children were interested in finding different creatures outdoors and so, the class teacher led a ‘meeting’ with Nursery children to talk about different creatures that they find in the outdoor area. This then led into a project around looking at different plants, seeds and other natural found objects that we are exposed to when we are outdoors. The children had a go at planting seeds, talking about creatures that they found and then had an amazing experience when they visited the Botanical Gardens for our school trip. The project is still running and the engagement of children when the class comes together to talk about their learning outdoors is most notable!
Young children learn best through active learning, excellent interactions and when placed in social situations where they are required to inquire, problem solve and work as a team. Children are bought together to reflect on their findings and celebrate the learning process along the way. Project work at Dulwich, Puxi encompasses all of these elements and in turn, reflects the most effective type of learning for our children.
What ‘project’ will your child become engaged with?