Young children love to ask questions. It’s one of the ways in which they make sense of the world and their place in it. Questions are also a powerful tool for educators to promote children’s thinking and learning. They exercise their sense of agency and develop valuable and complex problem-solving skills.
When children are able to pose questions and investigate the answers, they feel in charge of their own learning. Inquiry-based approaches to learning harness this spirit of investigation, creating an interesting, engaging and meaningful curriculum that uses children’s interests and questions as a starting point for effective learning.
Sunshine Coast Grammar Early Learning Centre recognises inquiry as a central component in effective learning, not only in childhood but also throughout life. Active involvement in learning builds children’s understandings of concepts and the creative thinking and inquiry processes that are necessary for lifelong learning.
The Early Years Learning Framework highlights the importance of children becoming confident and involved learners through the development of ‘skills and processes such as problem solving, inquiry, experimentation, hypothesising, researching and investigating’.
An example of this type of inquiry-based learning during Term 1 saw Kindy children at Sunshine Coast Grammar Early Learning Centre discover a leaf looking bug in their playground. The children pointed out the green bug had a body which resembled a leaf but had big back legs, which got them all thinking about what it might eat, whether it had teeth and if it was a baby or adult bug. The children then went inside to find out more and discovered that the unusual leaf looking bug was a Katydid. The children then found out that it lives on leaves and grass and even watched a video on how it eats, moves and what sounds it makes. After conducting this research, the children were interested in knowing if the bug was still outside and when it was likely to go home.
Inquiry-based approaches reflect a view of the child as a constructor of their own knowledge and learning rather than simply as a passive recipient of someone else’s knowledge. This active view of the learning process reinforces the need for learning experiences that allow children the chance to follow their own interests and shape their own learning.