Childcare programs can use student-led learning to support their current program in several simple ways. One suggestion is to allow children to help decide what kind of activity centers they have at their disposal. Perhaps at recess a group of children are often sifting through sand looking for “treasure.” An observant teacher may use that interest that the children show to create a sand table activity center in the classroom, complete with sifting baskets, shovels, and pretend pieces of gold.
Another option is to adjust the dramatic play areas based upon what the children are interested in. Do they enjoy a specific book during circle time that could easily be translated to a dramatic play center? Perhaps a recent field trip to the zoo has inspired a zookeeper themed dramatic play center. Likewise, a probing question from a child about a recent dentist appointment may instigate a lesson or activity about dental health.
A very simple way to include student-led learning in a child care program is to observe the way the children play and interact together. If they all seem to be interested in pretending to ride horses at recess time, you can include a book at circle time about horses. From there the children may be curious about what horses eat and where they live which may then turn into an interest in farm animals. Adapting the learning and activities to follow the student’s lead isn’t losing control of the classroom, but is using their interests to guide their learning to meet the standards that the teacher or center determines.
Watch the video below and notice how the teacher guides the learning based upon the student’s interest level and questions. Pay special attention to the conversation at the end of the video between the two teachers.
Notice how they are building next week’s lesson plans based upon the student’s reaction to the ice activity.
Times shown are Pacific Standard Time. If you are in Central or Eastern Time, you will need to adjust the time accordingly.
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