I gaped at my two and a half-year-old daughter as she deftly accessed the YouTube channel she wanted to watch on my mobile. Was this a demonstration of the inquiry learning that I was so enamored about? I do believe that both schools and parents need to look beyond the conventional data accumulation and rote knowledge learning. The need of the hour is the ability to move towards generating a knowledge that is supported by inquiry learning and leads to application.
Inquiry learning at home and preschool
I have the added advantage of being a counselor along with being a mother. The curious child is often the brightest one. The quest to know more, to ask questions is the basis of inquiry learning. When my child asks a question I know that she is interested and engaged. Giving her an informed answer which she can understand and apply is my aim.
Guided inquiry is a method where the teacher can guide the line of inquiry as per the need of the topic that needs teaching. For example, a project is started and continued over a period of time. The structure of the project can change from time to time according to the response of the child, and by subtle guidance by the teacher. The topics could be diverse, like wildlife conservation, deforestation, evolution etc. the application of the knowledge thus gained is important. For example, a small patch of the school’s garden can be deforested to show the ravages entailed and the children can be encouraged to replant shrubs and grass.
How can we get the most pertinent results from inquiry learning?
Some of the salient points that my child’s preschool teacher keeps in mind while encouraging questions, promoting inquiry and guiding thought processes are simple to follow.
- The teacher is always a co-learner. This ensures that the teacher is not just transmitting knowledge but actively participating in the two-way learning process. The culture of active learning and investigation is built.
- Children have adequate time and space to continue the learning process at their own pace. And in the direction that their queries lead them.
- The child always works better in a group. They can sound ideas across each other and even instigate interest and curiosity of their teammates. The individual horizons are broadened and larger understandings develop.
- The joint project work encourages bonding and teamwork and builds social and emotional skills.
- The inquiry process generally leads to the teacher engaging in a sustained dialogue with the child. These conversations enrich and guide the child towards constructive thinking and active learning.
In the end
Small steps but large benefits are what I see in this method of learning. My child is happier and more cheerful in the best preschool accredited by QualityKG preschool accreditation. She is making a team project with 6 other children about global warming and has learned about pollution, recycling, reducing, and reusing. She has learned about conserving energy and water. All this from a small project and some smart guidance from her teacher who has a strong skill set because of the innovative preschool development programs by QualityKG! I am sold on the inquiry-based learning in preschools. This is definitely the way forward to active learning.