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independent learning

opportunities-for-self-regulation-in-fdk

The emphasis on play-based and inquiry-based learning in the FDK program has profound implications on learning outcomes throughout a child’s academic career. Here are several links to supporting play in the early years. http://earlylearningcentral.ca/?page_id=1192 

The program has evolved with the introduction of FDK.  Educators are more facilitators, listening to the children’s ideas for exploration (the emerging curriculum), placing materials out that are more exploratory–that provoke questioning and research to find out answers.  When children are engaged during play time many skills are developing including reading and writing. Oral language is a huge premise in the entire program.  Talking is most critical! Getting children to talk and model appropriate language is the foundation.  http://earlylearningcentral.ca/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/literacy-30-used-mar-4.pdf .  Here are some great prompts and questions to get you thinking about how to assess oral language and some self-reflective questions about the program in your classroom.

Initially in the school year rules and routines are established that need to be followed both in and out of the classroom.  Some children have not been expose to a structured routine/environment at this point in their life and it may take sometime to get them to know the expectations.  As they enter opportunities at various point in the classroom the ability to problem-solve, get along with others, share toys, ask for support is all part of self-regulation that will be needed for grade 1 and up and for the rest of their lives. 

The two year play-based program provides children time to hone those skills necessary for life. When they enter the block centre or dramatic play they set their own rules and self-monitor how roles should play out.  It is at this point they will have to regulate what appropriate behaviours (within the paramaters) are acceptable–they need to talk out disagreements using problem-solving skills, they need to share and/or take turns, ask for help when needed, and adapt to various situations in the day.  Within the program the Educators model appropriate behaviours (some boards may follow programs like Second Steps to support), and provide ample opportunities for children to work on self-regulation at different points throughout the day. 

In my experience it does take some time for many of the children to acquire these skills.  They need to have a firm base of appropriate behaviours before they move up the grades.  In my opinion when children don’t know how to self-regulate they take on less desirable behaviours and find themselves in trouble.  In the K program it is important to build in the leadership skills by giving them roles and responsibilities, make them feel valued, and allow them to make good/positive choices.  The structure of the program then changes are they move to grade 1 where they are expected to sit long for lessons, often more large group teaching occurs, and pencil/paper tasks are required for learning.  I am a believer that the inquiry model is appropriate for all grades due to the fact that many skill sets can be acquired with a more emergent curriculum model.  Having taught in all primary grades there are some great opportunities to apply the inquiry model into social studies, science where we can apply math and literacy skills and meet the curriculum expectations.  

The New Learner: 

When children leave the K program they are learning to be independent thinkers, ask questions, apply learning and ideas into different contexts–link the concepts into new situations, have a firm base on printing, basic math concepts,  reading readiness skills, have the ability to appropriately problem solve, and understand rules and routines in a structure environment.

creative-centres-that-are-inspiring-and-engaging

Over the last while I have engaged in some professional reading around the Reggio classroom.  Some of the main ideas is to encourage independent learning, bringing nature and calmness into the environment, and focusing on inquiry in multiple areas of the room. 

Creating an environment that will encourage investigation and inspire your students to be researchers begins with displaying materials that children can touch, triggers their interest (possibly with some discussions in large group), and placing items that are reflective (like mirrors) and the use of light in different ways (light tables, overhead projectors, lamps, wall of lights). 

Once we engage the learner we can begin listen to the conversations, ask questions and begin researching. 

As children explore, educators can begin the documentation process.  Below are a variety of pictures that display centre ideas that can be incorporated into the classroom.  Items are displayed in a way that will attract attention, use different surfaces to change the dimension of the classroom, and will certainly lead into questioning.

 Here there are 3 activities.  One is the 3 glass containers with items in them and containers below.  Students see this and it may lead to sorting.  The second display is highlighters with coloured paper which may encourage some reluctant writers to experiment with colours and see the variety of paper too!  Next is the overhead projector with bottles of coloured water and different materials inside plastic water bottles.  Children can display them on the wall, in the block centre or elsewhere in the room.  This can lead to an inquiry on light, colour, shapes etc.

 

 This s a creative way to display materials and let children decide how to use the display.

  Here are some natural materials found in the environment that can be displayed at a table in a science area.  The materials are neatly organized to invite the students to explore.  You can add paper and pencils to allow the children to draw what they see and this can spark an inquiry about nature-trees, rocks etc.  You can talk about diagrams and bring in some non-fiction books about the topic that can be displayed along side the table.

 Another idea to display rocks, gems, found materials onto a lazy susan.  This activity can be tied into math for sorting, graphing, counting, 1 to 1.  Or an abstract art glueless mosaic activity can come from this.  To the centre you can again add paper to allow the children to draw their creations and display them.  You may begin an inquiry into colour…..

Strategically placing materials in the room that are neatly displayed will engage the learner into perhaps trying new things and asking questions which can lead to many inquiry projects and meet many curriculum expectations.