Article written by Melina Toliusis (Preschool Co-ordinator)
Rethinking the process…
I always felt good about providing the right answers to my students questions. It gave me a sense of great pride to be able to teach great things right there and then. It took a little while for me to understand that my answers were not as important as the questions and wonders that the children have, and that by presenting the children with an answer right away, I was quickly putting an end to a greater learning moment. The wondering was over, the urge to know more was not longer there and that was it.
Open ended conversations…
When talking about art in the early years of development, people say the process is more important than the product. The learning actually happens while the child is working, mixing colours or trying different types of paper, tape or glue. This same idea applies to any other type of learning. If a child asks you, “Why does this flower smell nice?”, you can reply “What do you think? “or, “I wonder why?” When using open ended questions like these, you are allowing young children to continue wondering by engaging their brain in thought processing and exploration, leading to the development of the child's thinking, problem solving skills and much more.
When adults find provoking questions that invite the brain to work harder, a beautiful relationship forms in which the adult and the child become partners in research and the inquiry based approach works at its best. The adult does not provide the answers, but helps with the creation of them by carefully listening, honouring and understanding the way the child thinks. This allows the child to take ownership of his/her learning experience by making it more meaningful.
In addition to being a good listener, the adult also provides resources and materials to keep the interest alive and the learning evolving. Some of these materials can be as simple as a photograph, or a reference book. Others might take a little more time and effort like a walk to the park or a visit to an art gallery or science centre. As long as the interest is alive in a child's mind and wonder is present, there will always be room for improvement and time for more learning.