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Curiosity is a trait that all of us are born with and it is most prominent and powerful during our earliest years of living. Yes, curiosity is a trait that does need to be cultivated within most children as it is a trait that most of us are simply born with – it is innate. As adults, you may be asking yourself, “ Why were we, as children, brimming with curiosity but why does that burning desire to know, to explore fade as we grow older?”

This is simply because, as we grow older, we find ourselves having experienced many different things, situations, tastes, feelings, and many more. Therefore, as we get older, we also grow familiar to the world around us which leaves little room for curiosity to take place. As children, we often perceive our surroundings as something entirely new and different as we have yet to experience the world and its entirety.

The world of a young child is full of new foods to taste, new people to meet, new games to play, words to understand, places to visit, and concepts to master. The infant and toddler will touch, taste, smell, climb over, poke at, take apart, watch, listen, and learn more than at any other time in life. It is, simply, how we learn.

Dr. Bruce D. Perryin Why Young Children Are Curious

The importance of curiosity in a child’s growth shows how learning experiences in preschools can be designed to guide children’s curiosity in a way that benefits their cognitive, social, and emotional development. In early childhood education, teachers play a role in facilitating curiosity so that the children are able to maximize their inner desire and need for exploration and discovery in a safe and supportive environment.

This is why it is crucial for preschool teachers to foster a learning environment within their classrooms that ensures children’s safety and familiarity but also engaging through novel and stimulating activities and experiences. This can be quite the challenge as teachers have their own set of limitations when it comes to ensuring each and every child’s expectations are met through the teaching and learning process.

Another challenge that preschool teachers face in supporting children’s curiosity in the classroom is the individual styles of exploration that proves how each child has different ways of expressing their curiosity. This can be an interesting learning curve for the teachers but also a worrying one as children’s curiosity are the number one reason for accidents and mishaps to happen in preschools which is why safety is extremely important when allowing children to freely explore their curiosity

This can be an interesting learning curve for the teachers but also a worrying one as children’s curiosity are the number one reason for accidents and mishaps to happen in preschools which is why safety is extremely important when allowing children to freely explore their curiosity

One of the many ways preschool teachers can hone children’s curiosity in learning is through structuring classroom activities and guiding learning experiences to incorporate adult supervision within children’s independent exploration and discovery. Through structure and guidance, children are able to truly engage and enjoy self-initiated learning that are entirely driven by their curiosity.

This is how the Alfa and Friends’ Little Scientists programme supports children’s curiosity through child-centered scientific activities and experiments that are safe and stimulating at the same time – there are many methods in making sure that structure and guidance still exist while allowing children to learn and explore on their own. Here are 7 ways the Little Scientists programme supports children’s curiosity within the preschool classroom which can be practised in all areas of the preschool curriculum:

1

Asking Questions

The programme encourages children to lead inquiry-based investigations by asking relevant questions to the themes of the lesson. This ensures children’s
questions to structure and revolve around scientific learning. By doing so, children are taught to satisfy their curiosity by asking intelligent questions which guide them to seek the answers using scientific skills inside and outside the
classroom.
2

Fostering the Right Environment

To facilitate children’s curiosity is to facilitate the right environment for curiosity to thrive in. The programme reminds teachers that children’s curiosity is limitless and offers an open-ended style of teaching and learning - encouraging children to learn through the mistakes they make in the classroom and practice learning through what is known ‘trial and error’ activities.
3

Exploration Tools and Materials

The programme offers children the opportunity to explore science through their inner curiosity comprehensively. This is accomplished through a complete set of learning tools and apparatus that are provided to be shared and used in the classroom by both teacher and children. Besides fostering the right environment for exploration and discovery, supporting children’s natural curiosity to learn through exploration using ideal learning tools and materials is crucial to ensure structure within the whole learning experience. This also enables children to participate and immerse themselves fully in the learning process.
4

Experiential Learning

The programme allows children to learn by doing - it engages children’s curiosity through hands-on activities and science experiments which encourages children to use their scientific skills such as observing and predicting to satisfy their curiosity and learn by making reflections on the outcomes of the activities or experiments in the classroom. This is also accomplished through the products of the lesson that are produced by the children themselves to allow child-centered experiences to take place.
5

Scaffolding the Learning Process

The programme ensures structure in a way that teachers are supported through topic lessons that increases in level of complexity and in scientific knowledge
according to children’s level. This facilitates scaffolded learning which guides the children when they are exploring their curiosity through the scientific activities and experiments.
6

Rich Contexts of Learning

Although the programme is specifically science-focused, it ensures that learning is all-encompassing for the children in which they are given learning opportunities that allow the use of curiosity but in different ways such as individual, grouped, application of knowledge, practice of skills, or demonstration of values. This ensures variety in exploration and discovery so children are not limited in maximizing their curiosity in the classroom.
7

Encourage Play in Learning

The programme emphasizes play as one of the elements in children’s learning experiences that requires curiosity. This transforms free play into a guided one where the teacher is able to assess children’s learning progress and development through observation. It is critical that children’s curiosity is not discouraged in play as playful activities are the only platform for children to fully explore and express themselves in a comfortable and familiar setting.

Through these 7 ways, the Little Scientists programme builds natural curiosity of young learners and aids in developing children’s understanding by helping them make sense of the world.

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