There are four phases of inquiry that help the learning process unfold: focus, sharing, exploring and analyzing. Play is learning, so these are things kids do naturally. Educators and parents can help them go deeper.
Extended breaks, like the upcoming holiday break, are great chances to create learning opportunities for the entire family that are fun and meaningful. In fact, if your family celebrates Christmas and gives and receives presents, some of those gifts may have inquiry-based learning opportunities built in.
Here are three ways you can help your child learn through play:
1) Experiment – Encourage your child to wonder and make predictions while you play. What will happen if we pour water on the wall of the snow fort we’re building? What happens if the water is hot? What happens if we add food colouring to the water? Ask questions and then test the hypotheses.
2) Explore – Adventures in your community and road trips to visit family or friends are great opportunities for learning and discovery. If you have a smartphone with internet access, your child can look up information about the town you’re visiting on the way. How old is it? What do people do for jobs? How many people live here? Make guesses first and then find the answers together. Or, look for shapes in the environment – try to point out as many triangles as you can during the adventure.
3) Compare – There are many different celebrations that happen during this time of year, and also many different traditions families follow. This is a great time to learn about some of those traditions and celebrations. Encourage your child to talk to family and friends about what their traditions are. Borrow a book from the library or use the internet to find out more about how different events are celebrated here in Canada and around the world. Encourage your child to compare those celebrations with your own—how are they similar? How are they different?
In education we say we teach kids, not subjects. There are many opportunities to help kids learn and grow in our day-to-day lives. And, there’s a lot we can learn as adults from watching our children play and discover.
When you’re playing with your children, remember:
Respond – to questions
Extend – their thinking
Challenge – them to go further