School readiness: What does this look like at your child’s service?
At Little Scientists, we use the Inquiry Cycle to help scaffold the STEM inquiry process for educators and children.
As the National Certifications Coordinator for our STEM certification program, Little Scientists House, I visit many early learning services. Let me share a special visit to St Joseph’s Preschool in Adelaide a few years ago. I arrived into what seemed like a happy, noisy chaos. It was magical, but messy. When I looked around, I realised that I had been wrong – this wasn’t chaos, every child was interested and engaged. The children were called to the mat but asked to clear up first and, as if by magic, within minutes the room became tidy and functional. Everyone knew what they were doing and where things went and if they didn’t, they asked. It was a joint effort. Those who finished clearing away first helped the others, with the occasional suggestions from the educators.
I was introduced: “This is Hayley from Little Scientists. She is a scientist. Has anyone got a question for her?” My heart fell. Being asked to produce an answer on the spot to a question that I had no meaningful answer to it is something I always dread. But this isn’t what happened. The educator had other ideas: “Great question, David, how are you going to find out the answer? Who would like to help him with that question? What equipment do you need? How do you want to organise it? Who is going to do what?”
It was wonderful to watch how, right there, self-efficacy was being developed in the children by validating their ideas, supporting them in organising a team and assigning roles, and by using an inquiry-based approach. AND I didn’t have to provide the answer because the next day the children solved their own problem with a bit of scaffolding from the educator – magical, real-world STEM in practice. It was obviously something both the educator and the children had done before. All it takes is confidence and practice.
At Little Scientists, we support early childhood educators is creating inquiry-based, co-constructed environments because research suggests that this is how critical life skills are developed. Skills such as self-confidence, the ability to reflect, problem-solving and critical thinking, social and communication skills, and resilience, are important to our future and our children’s future. Change starts with us so we encourage you, as parents, to join your children’s educators in creating co-constructed learning environments that will develop these skills in our next generation.
Use our book recommendations to help you spark a conversation that leads children to discover STEM in their everyday lives.
Child-led inquiry and spotting STEM in the everyday isn’t always easy in our busy everyday lives so we have created these resources for inspiration.
We showcase our favourite early STEM projects from our community of Little Scientists Houses and beyond.