In early childhood it is equally important that science activities be hands-on, child-driven, authentic, and active. Developmentally, young children learn and understand best from what they can see, touch, feel, and manipulate. Providing safe, readily available materials that children can experiment with is one of the most important steps towards effective hands-on science investigations.
Effective educators use a child’s own natural curiosity and questions to fuel science investigations. Another way to explore science concepts is with informational books and stories infused with science concepts like weather, water, animals, etc. Science activities and investigations are also a great way to build oral vocabulary, develop reading readiness, and fuel literacy development.
Before educators can embark on designing an effective hands-on science program for young children, it’s important to know a bit about how a child’s brain works. The brain is a pattern-seeking machine, and science is the quest to recognize and classify naturally occurring patterns.
Children are naturally equipped to learn through observation and investigations. Every experience, every word, every toy deeply impacts her understanding of her world and the connections she makes. Every time a child learns something new, the brain rewires itself based on the child’s understanding. Every time the child repeats a task or a skill that particular neural pathway is reinforced and strengthened. “Learning changes the brain because it can rewire itself with each new stimulation, experience, and behavior”. Providing varied and multiple opportunities for a child to use what she has just learned are important ways to help build efficient connections in the brain. It may be as simple as providing blocks to drop and knock over once you’ve noticed that the child is dropping a cup from the highchair. The more a neural pathway in a child’s brain is used, the stronger it becomes; conversely, if it is not used, the pathway can be lost.
Ms. Nora Sierra
EC Assistant Principal