Don't underestimate my ability to understand
A famous psychologist and an expert on early childhood education suggeted that any subjet can be taught effectively in some intellectually honest form to any child at any stage of development. This involves information being structured so that complex ideas can be taught at a simplified level first, and then re-visited at more complex levels later on.
Ideally, teaching his way should lead to children being able to solve problems by themselves.
In recent weeks we have seen this first hand. We have been studying trees for many weeks now and started with the colours of the trees in autumn (and by the way our enquiries showed us that we see all colours in autumn not just yellow, brown, red and orange). We then went on to study the leaf and why some trees lost their leaves and why some held on to them (we did connect the words decidious and evergreen later in our conversations). We also found out that it is the trees ability to remove the goodness from the leaf and store this extra food inside the trunk that causes the leaves to change colour. Our investigations took us to studying the leaf under a microscope and what we saw was mindblowing, the children then documented their findings by drawing what they saw.
It is much easier for a child to explain and show their findings through the medium of art rather than verbally. It is also a slower process so they can gather their thoughts at their own pace. Part of our study looked at how trees are kind to our environment and their ability to take in the dirty air and combine this with sunshine and water to create clean air (photosynthesis). The shedding of the leaves and the creation of clean air was shown graphically and through story telling. This week we have been looking at roots and their purpose - did you know that roots talk to each other? (because I didn't)
We have investigated large roots on our walk and considered how deep the roots might go underground
......and the investigations are ongoing.
Their level of engagement and enthusiasm has been evident with no child wanting to opt out (which we would honour).
I would concur with Jerome Bruner and his teachings about the ability of the young child to understand complex issues, with the key approach to start simply and gradually increase the depth of the learning. We also need to be mindful and creative in how we present this information to the children as it has to be at their level. Imagery and hands on activities offer the most to the young child, and possibly most of us. This has also been a lovely project where the adults and the children have embarked on a journey of co-learning.
This project is still on-going so I will keep you posted.
The next time your child asks you a complex question and you dismiss it, as you are under the illusion that they will not understand, ......think again