How do we foster learning in a way that values play and the interests of the child? How do we encourage imagination and open-ended play?
This is what early childhood educators from Sacred Heart Preschool explored during their two day onsite professional development opportunity led by 4-C that focused on the Reflective Teaching Cycle of Provocation – Exploration – Documentation – Reflection. The educators were invited to play with loose part provocations using common classroom or household items, and as they explored, their interactions were documented through photographs. The next day, educators used the photographs to reflect on and discuss what happened and what skills were used such as engineering, sorting and cooperative play. This process also helped them identify potential interests to expand on and provided insight on how to extend the learning with new materials to add in the future.
One educator reported that she wanted to “everyday be more conscious of letting children play and letting them take risks. I want to set up more invitations to play with real life materials.” Another said “I will loosen the reigns and allow more freedom in my classroom and focus on learning through the process.” This Reflective Teaching Cycle is essential to fostering a learning environment for children in which they are free to experiment, explore their own ideas and become independent learners.