A few days back I had the pleasure of visiting the Project Culmination Exhibition held by Redbricks Junior Preschool, Ahmedabad. The display of children’s work left me in a complete awe of this 21st-century teaching-learning practice.
The project approach believes that teaching-learning is an interactive process. Children should actively participate in their learning and the project topics should be of children’s interests and should have relevance to their everyday life. As I walked through the exhibition, it struck me how beautifully children’s expressions and understanding of the project topics were captured in various forms, such as models, stories, free-drawing, and rhymes. The exhibition cherished and celebrated children’s perspectives on the various project topics explored by different age groups.
The preschool toddlers’ explored the topic of fruits, junior KG explored plants and senior KG children explored the topic clothes as part of their project work. These topics of study were selected keeping in mind the children’s interest, availability of local resources and the broader curriculum. The projects unfolded like a story, where each project had a beginning, middle and the end.
The beginning stage was where teachers and children brainstormed ideas and concepts related to the selected topic. This provided an opportunity for teachers to gauge children’s prior knowledge and relevant experiences.
The middle phase was all about discovery and research. Children went on field trips and spoke to experts who helped them build on their existing knowledge and clarified their queries and assumptions. Prior to the field trip, children as a group decided what would they like to learn from the visit? With the teacher as their facilitator children collaborated on the questions to ask and who will ask what question.
Upon returning from the visit, they discussed their findings and were also given opportunities to express their learning in the form of free drawing and clay models. During this middle phase children also carried out a lot of research and investigation work on the topic. They expanded their understanding of the topic through books, videos and first-hand experiences of making models. Each classroom had a project model on the display along with the prototype. I really liked the idea of creating a prototype. Prototype allowed children to identify what ‘worked’ and what part of their idea/design needed some tweaking. It fostered evaluation and critical thinking skills in children.
It was fascinating to see how children’s understanding evolved as their learning journey moved from conceptualization to culmination; they learnt the intricate details of the world around them. Also, children wrote (with the help of an adult) stories and rhymes related to the project topics, which stimulated language and literacy skills. The stories were captured in their true essence; in the language children choose to narrate them.
The final stage of the project was the culmination. This is the phase where children with the help of their teachers put up an exhibition for the community viewing. While planning for the display children purposefully reviewed and evaluated the entire project. The exhibition cheered children’s journey of discovery and learning and celebrated their viewpoint on the world around them.
Redbricks Junior empowers children by upholding their involvement and inquisitiveness in the teaching-learning process. Mark Van Doren once said, “Teaching is the art of assisting discovery.” It is not what we teach that builds the future of our children, rather it is how we teach that sets the tone for their future.
Kudos to Redbricks Junior Preschool!
Preschool Education Consultancy