Perhaps you have heard of inquiry-based learning and you are curious to know more about it and how it can benefit your child. At Kiddiwinkie Schoolhouse, inquiry-based learning has a crucial place in the curriculum. At the same time, parents often wonder what exactly it is and how it works. Inquiry-based learning, as the name suggests, revolves around activating children’s natural curiosity and desire to learn by asking, or inquiring. With this kind of learning, children become personally engaged in directing the path each lesson takes.
What exactly is inquiry-based learning?
In inquiry-based learning, teachers leverage age-appropriate learning experiences to encourage students to ask more questions. What do they see, smell, hear, taste, feel? Why is it the way it is? What else can we find out? From our children’s point of view, they will get to use logic and reasoning to figure things out. They may form simple hypotheses and ask questions or try different ways to find out if their hypothesis is true or not. In this method, teachers support the students and help move them beyond general curiosity into the realms of critical thinking and understanding. Instead of memorising facts and materials, children learn by doing, exploring and experiencing.
How is inquiry-based learning different from traditional learning methods?
In traditional learning, students are often simply told what the outcome is expected to be, and then are shown evidence to prove that this is the case. In inquiry-based learning, students take learning into their own hands. There are no ‘wrong’ results. Instead, everything they find out is useful. Children get to evaluate for themselves if the results are helpful, and what value they have. A simple example would be if the children were asked to build the tallest block tower possible. They may come together to think about ways to make this tower tall and stable, and then proceed to test their ideas out with real blocks. As towers inevitably fall and fail, teachers may ask the children, “Why do you think it fell? What do you think we could do better to fix this problem?” In a traditional learning situation, however, teachers may present information to students to explain how buildings are constructed and what methods keep them stable. They are often spoon-fed with facts without having the chance to test their theories out for themselves.
How are lessons conducted using inquiry-based learning at Kiddiwinkie Schoolhouse?
At Kiddiwinkie Schoolhouse, our core programmes are closely mapped to the Nurturing Early Learners (NEL) and the Early Years Development Framework (EYDF) set by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA). Our curriculum is specially designed to waken and excite children’s curiosity and develop their love for learning. Kiddiwinkie Schoolhouse children are allowed to be constructors of knowledge as they learn through the process of inquiry. All our activities are carefully designed to provide hands-on learning experiences to encourage the little ones to discover the world around them. For example, through our Playtinkers programme, our children use loose parts to think critically and problem-solve creatively. Loose parts play encourages children to explore, discover and innovate as they think out of the box throughout the process of play. Playtinkers makes use of recycled household items such as carton boxes and rolls which are reused for play. Through this, children develop their numeracy skills by applying their knowledge and understanding of basic numerical concepts they have learnt as part of the core programme. As a whole, inquiry-based learning allows children to be active participants in their own learning and discovery. Instead of waiting for solutions to be handed to them, they learn how to become problem solvers.
How does this benefit students preparing for formal schooling?
The Singapore Science syllabus for primary school by the Ministry of Education is built around the spirit of scientific inquiry and “seeks to nurture the student as an inquirer”. Just like the inquiry-based learning approach used at Kiddiwinkie Schoolhouse, the primary school Science syllabus leverages and seeks to fuel children’s natural instinct for curiosity to help them explore their natural and physical world. With a strong foundation in inquiry-based learning in their preschool years, Kiddiwinkie Schoolhouse children are amply prepared for their future formal schooling in primary school. It is of utmost importance to us that our children learn how to navigate the world and develop a strong love of learning that will never be snuffed out. Book a tour to find out more about how we can support you and why our curriculum can bring out the best in your child.