Considerations for Preparing Kindergartners for the Inquiry-Based Indoor & Outdoor Learning Environment
September is a joyful month. Families, educators and students busily prepare for another academic year ahead. As routines fall in to place and EL-K teams get to know their learning family, we consider our program and the expectations we have for our early learners and how we as educators will encourage families to follow our learning journey along with us (e.g., after school class tours, class blog, newsletters, volunteers)
Children have the principle right to play. It comes natural to the curious child. The role of the educators are to facilitate learners and provide learners with the tools to implement and deepen their understanding into their playful day of investigations and explorations. We are co-learners among one another.
In my opinion, the beginning of the year is the essential time to model how to care for classroom materials, practice safety, and among many others, how to use the outdoors as an extension of our classroom (yes even on rainy or snowy days). This week, we brought our kinders on mini nature explorations, giving them one small look for at a time. After a few explorations, the questions began becoming evident and wonders and comments began to be documented. This is a great time to put together your first inquiry binder with dialogue, program connections, evidence of learning, photographs etc...)
"Why do leaves fall?"
"I feel happy outside"
The first week of school has come and gone, the students busily began to learn the beginning routines of school and the flow of the day. As an early learning kindergarten team, we prepared the environment as a blank canvas and awaited for the children to transform and create their learning environments inside and outside. Shelves were kept clear, some materials were put away, jazz and classical music played in the backgrounds, and purposefully placed materials were provided.
Within the time frame of week two, our students and their needs allowed for a room design change. We created a more defined dramatic space which interacted with our atelier and building spaces. We provided more shelf space for dramatic play to include student made props, a cozy nook for self-regulating needs and we cleared the cubby tops in order to house the student portfolios year around! All these changes inspired by learners themselves. Here is a look into our environment and of our favourite celebrations inspired by Peter H. Reynolds Dot Day!
The beginning of a school year is an important time to set the tone for your learning environment and partnerships. Moving into a new school this year, I was so pleased to learn about the community and their love for modern learning. As a graduate student, I look forward to learning more about modern learning in the early years and the ways in which our learning environments can spark our students to showcase their natural curiosity and artistic flare.
Once again, I will be hosting a session at the 2017 Reading for the Love of it Conference in Toronto this coming February. By popular request and personal passion, I am discussing and sharing our experience with our atelier- a classroom transformative workshop. Here are some photographs of our classroom thus far, the beauty of it all... it always changes!
Here are some of my tips for setting up your Reggio inspired play- based FDK learning environment: