Play-Based Learning in Early Childhood
At King, curiosity leads to exploration, and exploration leads to a mastery of foundational skills in all areas of our curriculum. Our youngest students see education as a way to experiment, create, construct, and connect. In the process, they develop a more expansive mindset. They experience education as a path of discovery, understanding, wonder, and joy.
These ideas are grounded in the Reggio Emilia-inspired, project-based teaching and learning practiced at King School. Starting at age 3, we encourage our Prekindergarten and Kindergarten learners to collaboratively explore their environment within intentionally created classroom spaces that allow children to actively engage in their learning.
Project Learning and the Foundations for Self-Discovery
King uses project-based teaching and learning in our Prekindergarten and Kindergarten classrooms, this supports the developmental range of our students as part of our private Early Childhood Education program.
King’s teachers create learning opportunities that incorporate students’ ideas and interests; our program encourages students to ask questions, gather data, learn research skills, make models, and share their learning with their peers.
Academic emphasis areas include language, early literacy development, math, and science. Our teaching teams carefully curate the materials used in our classrooms. Children are encouraged to express their understanding of the world through a multitude of resources, including art supplies, building blocks, pencil and paper, and the tools of a scientist.
When our youngest learners enter King classrooms at age 3 or 4, they arrive naturally curious and full of wonder and joy.
As they set out to learn about topics that interest them, and solve problems uncovered by their discoveries, they rely on primary sources and share the knowledge they gather in projects and demonstrations. In the process, they develop a deeper understanding of the value of learning, the importance of asking questions, and the role of research and inquiry in informing them about the world and about themselves.
Kindergarten students and their teachers take project research to new heights, as they look across the King campus to understand more about themselves and their school community.
Project studies are focused on topics of interest to students, and solving problems encountered along the way; students interact with primary sources and share their knowledge through projects and demonstration.
Through project work, children are encouraged to be academic risk takers in a safe, secure environment. Within the context of a familiar, accepting classroom, they also try new activities such as acting in a play or standing in front of a group to perform a song. They learn that making a mistake is acceptable and part of the learning process. Children gain an awareness and appreciation of other people, both within our classroom and in the larger school community.
Armed with a jug of water, a few wooden boards, notepads, and a plan, a unit of PreK detectives worked to uncover what types of creatures are inhabiting the nature trail on the King campus.
Prekindergarten students are budding entrepreneurs at King School. As part of imagining and creating a restaurant, they researched their questions: "What kinds of restaurants are there?, Where do they get their food?, and Who works at a restaurant?"
How do enemies get in to a castle? When will the dragon egg hatch? King PreKindergarten students lead their medieval quest.
King School's Reggio inspired Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten program employs an emergent curriculum where the children's own discoveries, questions, accomplishments, and challenges become the fodder for the classes' curricular scope and sequence. This fall, King Pre-Kindergarten students viewed a cardboard box as a castle, which propelled the class on a medieval learning quest, exploring architecture, dragons, armor, horses, tapestries, and more.
The students began by pooling their existing knowledge about castles and brainstorming questions to research. Jack shared that castles "have a gate to open at the entrance," Griffin added that castles "have water around them," and Savannah knew "we can make them out of cardboard." Then students posed their initial questions, including: "What are castles made of?", "How would enemies get in?", "Where are castles?," and "Do castles have magic?"
Young children are natural scientists and often return from the playground with their pockets stuffed with rocks, seeds, leaves and other "treasures" that spark their interest. Kindergarten Faculty Bettina Greenberg and Kindergarten Assistant Faculty Morgan Desautelle know this about their students, so they invited the children to bring a "Found Object" to school to share with the class. Ms. Greenberg explains how children delight in this initiative, sharing, "The children were proud of their objects and even the most hesitant speakers took the opportunity to speak about themselves. They explained why their object was special to them, where they found it, and who they were with when it was discovered." This project-based teaching and learning approach, which is part of King's Reggio inspired early childhood program, allows young students to ask questions, gather data, develop hypotheses, express their understanding of the world through a multitude of resources, and teach others about their learning.
Students are empowered by their natural curiosity in King's new Reggio-inspired Early Childhood program
The process of following natural curiosity and wonder throughout the day, with guidance from the teacher, is central to King's use of the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education. The curriculum is self-guided, as students learn through experience in a relationship-driven environment.