Archive for April 2010
The first year Early Childhood Care and Education students hosted an open house recently to showcase their final project of the year — learning centres that they have developed based on the learning and educational philosophies they’ve studied since they started in the program last September.
The learning centres were carefully and creatively designed by the students, who were responsible for planning, setting up, implementing, and then modifying the centres based on their observations of children playing in them.
For two days before the open house, about 50 children ranging in age from two to six visited the learning environments in small groups to play in the centres, providing the students with valuable feedback on their projects. The children were from the Holland College Child Development Centre, an independently run facility in the Charlottetown Centre.
Megan Sheridan and Jessica McCullum, two of the students involved, sat down with me last week to explain their projects. It was as times exhausting and messy, they said, but nevertheless an invaluable experience.
All of the learning centres incorporated nature into the experiences and aesthetics for the children. Kim’s group took a trip to the beach to collect materials, and to show that you can be resourceful and provide rich experiences for children without a lot of purchased items.
Every part of each centre was carefully thought out to provide the maximum learning experience, and the students watched the children to determine what worked well and to modify what may have needed a little tweaking.
“One thing that we wanted to show was that mess is okay!” Jessica explained. “Children need to experiment and making a mess is part of that process.” She added that the children were also very good at cleaning up after themselves. (Unfortunately, that’s a skill they seem to lose as they move into their teenage years.)
There’s nothing high-tech about these learning centres, so the children get to dig in and get their hands dirty. They get to run, jump, play, and spend time interacting with each other.
Megan’s team worked on a science-based learning centre. Children were able to play at various stations which allowed them to get their hands onto plenty of items of various weights, densities, textures, shapes and colours.
The Building and Blocks environment, for example, gave children the opportunity to play with blocks in a variety of different ways. The blocks let them practice balancing, stabilizing, and matching; they could classify them by size, colour, texture or type; and they use the blocks as symbolic representations of things. By playing with blocks, children also develop their language and problem solving skills, and must learn to play cooperatively with their peers. All of that … and no batteries required!
Visitors to the open house included people working in the early childhood education field, as well as government representatives, parents and others interested in finding out more about the project. Megan and Jessica said the project was the culmination of all that they had learned in the first year of their program. Now they are out in the field for their on-the-job training, where they will be able to apply more of their skills in a real world setting.
Many thanks to Megan Sheridan and Jessica McCullum for providing these pictures.