Young children learn naturally through exploration and manipulation through a physical connection. For young concrete mind’s it is important to support their need to explore and interact physically with their environment. Sensory materials provide the insatiable need to learn for understanding. The above materials are just one example of how versatile sensory materials can be when used as open-ended learning tools. Using a jar, a cup and two painting pallets children can sort either the rocks or the dried peas.
Fine motor skills are being utilized while mathematics is being explored. Sorting, grouping, and counting are all done as a way to gather information and form meaning. Attention to detail while noticing the slight variances with each rock is also something young children do naturally. Allowing children to explore means that I also notice and recognize when they are paying close attention to the things that we as adults take for granted. A lot of these fine details are what we want children to notice and question as they enter elementary school, so let preschoolers do what they innately can do and build their foundations for learning and understanding, strong.
My role as an Early Learning Teacher is to always support, extend, inspire and challenge my preschool students. I want to make sure each leaves preschool with the abilities needed to be successful once they enter elementary school. The way in which I feel that is done best is by teaching children through developmentally appropriate methods. The curriculum I design and implement is derived from aspects of Constructivist learning theories which include, Piaget, Vygotsky, the Reggio Emilia approach and Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Theory. I enjoy combining what I see as the most valuable aspects of each to help guide and support the emergent curriculum that I implement. So my curriculum will always be changing with the students that enter and leave through the years. I do not follow any type of “cookie cutter” approach because a curriculum without creativity, individuality, and aspects that encourage consistent questioning and challenges is not a curriculum in which young minds hungry to learn, require. They need a curriculum that supports their natural abilities and prepares them for the future.
Heidi Scott, BA & MIT * The Marigold School of Early Learning! 🙂