Roots and Wings

Community Preschool

January 22, 2018Roots & Wings Community Preschool
3703 International Way
Medford, OR 97504

Inquiry Based/Whole Child Approach to Education and Learning

An inquiry based/whole child approach to education and learning is based on current knowledge of how children develop, think and learn, the primary focus being on the process of learning versus concentrating solely on rote instruction and recall of facts. The latter being methods that provide minimal attention to language acquisition, social-emotional development, gender differences in learning, and children’s natural inclination to actively explore. Current science and developmental specialists view childhood as a vital time period that builds foundational knowledge based on essential experiences and timelines.

Here’s what we know about young children.

  1. Young children are greatly influenced by family and family culture.
  2. They already ‘know’ a great deal.
  3. Children must be actively (using their whole body) to explore. Children are simply hard wired to do this.
  4. The benefits of active exploration are:
    1. Discovering relationships and connections between people, places, things and events
    2. Learning how to search for answers
    3. Learning how to communicate their discoveries. Children place words to their experiences only when those experiences are worthwhile. Action/experience comes before language. However, the experiences must be age appropriate.
    4. Self-initiative, motivation and creativity in thought develops through active exploration.
  5. What hasn’t been held in the hand, what hasn’t been experienced through all the sensory systems, and what hasn’t been felt in the heart will not be perceived as valuable in the developing brain. It will be pruned away.
  6. Memorized information (ABC, etc.) although useful will not be perceived as true knowledge until the child reaches the appropriate developmental stage to use it in m meaningful ways.
  7. There are stages of development in all learning areas. They begin from simple and move through complex stages, each being as important as the other. We cannot, nor should we, rush without direct consequences to the child; low self-esteem and skills built on shaky foundations.

An inquiry based curriculum is immersed in understanding how young children go about the business of learning.  It supports children’s innate need to explore and observe phenomena. In other words, it brings learning to life. Children must be active participants in their own learning as they build knowledge, one step at a time; sometimes the steps are more like leaps while at other times they are small but steady.

Curriculum is a plan for learning-that’s it. There is no great mystery. How we plan curriculum for young children is dependent on what we know about them universally and individually. Everything a child does, both inside a classroom and outside the classroom, can be considered curriculum. What happens in the home and in the community can be considered an important piece to the child’s curriculum. In an inquiry based curriculum we understand this important integration. There is no one influence that stands alone in a child’s life.

An inquiry based/whole child approach to education and learning understands that there are many ways of “knowing” and many ways to come to know. The curriculum will then link all aspects of intelligence within the daily routine and teacher decisions for the children; movement, language, mathematics, science, social, visual arts, music, are all pathways to learning. We are all wired to be stronger in some but not all of these areas. The preschool way of teaching young children is therefore, active, full of problem solving and decision making opportunities.

The real characteristics of successful preschoolers are self-motivated, self-confident, curious, proud of accomplishments, knowledgeable in the process of inquiry, and capable of communicating ideas in multiple ways. Real and authentic characteristics of readiness are; ready to take risks in order to learn new things, ready to be away from home for a few hours a day, ready to be with others who are different yet the same.

At Roots & Wings Community Preschool we value the contributions of past and current contributions of pioneers in the field of early childhood education that deepen our understanding of child development. We rely on these contributions to guide our decisions and daily practices in our program.