Students learn in many ways, and we know that the most memorable experiences for children are those that involve the most senses. It may look like play, but singing, touching, pretending, sorting and drawing are all examples of engaged, active learning. Children also learn to socialize, communicate and cooperate while they are having fun, and the resulting learning will be longer lasting and better understood. Our Community Kindergarten has a long history of providing this type of active, unique and engaged learning environment.
Compare two situations: in one, a teacher reads the class a book about spring and asks the children to print in a journal about things that remind him or her about spring. In our classroom, we go out on a treasure hunt to find signs of spring, and then write words and draw pictures of what we found. We then place our words and pictures on a rainbow shaped paper, sorting out the colors of the objects into the appropriate part of the rainbow. The first situation is very abstract and for some students, it is more likely to cause frustration and soon be forgotten. The second way is very hands-on and involves the same academic concepts, but adds the math concept of sorting and the science method of observing.
The final product (a paper with writing) is the same, but our experience expands the academic outcomes in more directions, involves communication and social skills, and is exciting and memorable for students. The difference is in using an approach that involves more of the elements of play and exploration. Special guests, treasure hunts and unique classroom experiences are full of discovery and exploration, and our classroom is always brimming with these opportunities! As we return from our March break one of our topics will be community helpers. This is the time of year when we invite special guests to come to our classroom and tell us about the important things they do that help make our communities great!
In typical kindergarten fashion, we will have lots of questions for our visitors, who have included a wide variety of interesting professions through the years. These guests always bring such unique and interesting information to our classroom learning experience. We get to ask lots of questions, look at interesting stuff, and make a real connection with these people. As a community based program, our students benefit greatly from the personal efforts of parents and volunteers at the community centre, and our students see on a daily basis how we work together and support each other in a community.