A good early education plays a crucial part in the social and cognitive development of children. It builds the foundation upon which children build their knowledge and skills.
To promote children’s ambition and interest for learning, as well as the best learning outcomes, teachers must utilise the best available teaching methods. This requires thoughtful decision-making on the part of the educator.
As such, educators adopt many different approaches to education in the early stages of schooling worldwide.
Read ahead for 7 popular approaches to early education in Australia.
Inquiry-based learning is a method of teaching that involves engaging students through exploration of problems and ideas, and encouraging them to ask questions. In simpler terms, inquiry learning aims to teach children to ask the right questions and come up with their own solutions.
This promotes independent thinking in children and allows lessons to take a freeform shape, where the teacher determines the topic and students come up with relevant questions and attempt to answer them with the teacher’s guidance. This approach can be used in most subject areas.
As Raising Stars explains, this method entails structured and guided lessons. The teacher’s role in this method is to guide the students with clear statements on the subject matter and provide support during practice.
Methods of practice can include questions, homework worksheets, quizzes, and tests. The teacher provides feedback regarding the student’s performance to help them learn.
Explicit teaching is especially helpful for topics that students are being exposed to for the first time, such as spelling new words and basic arithmetic concepts.
As students become better at the given tasks, the structure can be slowly decreased until they achieve the capability to complete the tasks themselves. However, all children tend to learn at different rates, and this is something the teacher must keep in mind to ensure that no students feel left behind.
An event-based approach to teaching aims to provide children with practical applications for the information and skills they learn at school.
Teachers guide students to act out real-life events and situations. The children can draw on their knowledge and experiences from home, school, the playground, and their wider environment to do so.
If used effectively, event-based learning can encourage collaboration, playfulness, and a sense of responsibility in children. This can also be a fun way for children to explore and learn about topics that may be considered boring or dull.
A project approach focuses on creating hands-on projects such as presentations, posters, displays, or reports. This approach goes beyond a linear teaching method in which the teacher teaches and the student learns.
Instead, students are given the space to explore topics on their own and represent their learning by creating a relevant project. As students do their own research to create projects, it not only makes the topic more engaging but also ensures better understanding of it.
For example, creating a baking soda volcano or a strand of DNA using building blocks can inspire students to use their creative talents in an educational setting.
Play-based learning is perhaps the most fun form of learning. It allows children to use their imagination and creativity to interact with their environment, people, and objects.
It is important that the play connects well with the curriculum, and that this relationship is clear.
Play-based learning helps children develop a broad range of social, physical, and intellectual skills, and the ability to independently apply skills and concepts.
It is another way to add a dash of colour to otherwise drab subjects and utilises the natural playfulness of children towards the aims of education.
This method is most commonly a scripted program where teachers follow specific steps throughout a lesson and the students respond collectively following a teacher’s signal.
These lessons are designed around small learning steps and clearly defined teaching goals.
This approach is based on the theory that clear instructions eliminate misinterpretation and can greatly improve learning. It can be used for almost any subject and ensures that the students learn every part of the subject in sufficient detail.
However, this method may be considered dull by some students, and it can take considerable effort on the part of the teacher to keep the students engaged.
A blended approach to early education combines some or all the above methods to promote the best possible learning outcomes for all students.
This approach is useful to ensure that whatever learning method suits a given child, they will be catered for and encouraged to build on their strengths.
Blending various approaches also helps keep the learning environment fresh.