Common features of inquiry-based learning
- Children conduct multi-faceted investigations which extend over long periods of time;
- the projects deal with real-world questions and topics generated by the children;
- children are encouraged to question, look for resources, and solve problems in a variety of ways;
- children are supported as they make connections among ideas and acquire new skills; and
- children receive feedback about their ideas from teachers, experts in the field, undergraduate and graduate students, faculty members, and researchers.
A day in junior kindergarten
A day in Junior Kindergarten begins with free play or reading with a parent who is bringing the child to school. Once everyone has arrived, the class gathers for their first meeting of the day. During this time the children will be involved in a variety of activities such as listening to and discussing a story, interacting with the calendar, or discussing questions related to the project in which they are involved. Aspects of early literacy and numeracy may also be a part of the first meeting time.
When the meeting is over the children will have opportunities to participate in a variety of centres and participate in free play. At this time the teachers may also work individually or with small groups of children depending upon the projects that are being explored. The snack time is flexible and children choose when to eat their snacks depending upon how they want to arrange their centre time. The teachers supervise hand washing and eating and ensure that all children take time to eat their snacks.
The Child Study Centre runs a physical education program on Mondays and Wednesdays that will use both the courtyard and available indoor spaces. On the days that the children go outside to play, weather permitting, it is important that the children are dressed for this outdoor time.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, children explore their innate musicality through 30-minute classes with our music teacher. They have the opportunity to play instruments and musical games, dance and move, listen and sing. Activities expose children to music from various cultures and styles, enabling them to engage with basic musical concepts and nurture their connection with the world around them.
Project topics are chosen based on interests expressed by the children. Some projects may last for a very long time and others may be quite short. Topics that have been explored in the past are: toys, stories, snow, bones, insects, and animals. Field trips and guest experts are an essential part of this inquiry-based approach to teaching and learning. They help to put learning into context for children.
Over the course of the school year the inquisitive nature of the children is encouraged as the children themselves choose what they will learn within the framework of the classroom and each project. The students gain confidence through daily routines. They learn new vocabulary, articulate their thoughts, and explore the topics to make sense of the world around them.
Faculty of education involvement
Undergraduate and graduate students may spend time in the Junior Kindergarten classroom as part of their course work. Researchers may also spend time with children. If a research project has been approved for the Centre, parents will receive written information about the research from the researcher and permission to include children will be requested from individual parents. Researchers will have sought permission to conduct research and will have completed all of the necessary Ethics applications through the University of Alberta. In the past research topics have included understanding patterns in mathematics, using a SMART table with young children, musical play in the early childhood classroom, and investigating the viability of a newly designed test of early language and literacy for Canadian children.
The curriculum for this program is known as the emergent curriculum and it grows out of the interests and curiosities of the children. The classroom walls will begin to be filled with the work of the children rather than “decorated” by the teacher. The teaching practices of the Centre are informed by the Alberta Education Early Learning Program of Studies as well as the Guiding Principles for Primary Programs.
The highly qualified teaching team of the Child Study Centre consists of a Lead Teacher, a Teaching Assistant, and a Music Teacher. They are supported by a Faculty Director and an Administrative Assistant. Please visit our staff page to meet them in person.