A conversation I often find myself having with parents is regarding the idea of inquiry in schools. This idea of “child led” classrooms often leaves parents confused and thinking that the classroom is a free for all. If I’m being honest, the idea of children directing the pathway for learning used to make me nervous. Giving them the control to dictate what I teach and how I teach it was a scary thought to me, but once I dove in and embraced the idea of inquiry based learning it was a game changer for me and the students in my classroom.
Let's start by answering the common question of “What is Inquiry?”. Inquiry based learning is an educational approach that creates curiosity and helps develop a love for learning. In this model, students pose questions and investigate them in the classroom. Inquiry based learning provides a platform for students to use their voice and develop areas of passion within the classroom. It puts students in the drivers seat to explore areas of interest while the teacher is in charge of guiding their learning and meeting curriculum expectations along the way.
So what does this look like?
Each classroom is different but in my Kindergarten class, we engage as a group and track our inquiry visually. Below is a video that shows you a small scale example of inquiry from my kindergarten class using the simple interest of snails, yes I said snails. If you have interacted with a 4-6 year old, you know they LOVE bugs and all things slimy. So I decided to follow their lead and explore the world of snails with my class. Through this inquiry process we were able to address key areas of the curriculum and keep child engagement at an all time high. After you watch this video you will see that we were able to tie in strands of the curriculum like math, science, language and art… all from diving into all things snails.
When a child is passionate and excited about what they are doing they are more engaged, and with more engagement comes more retention of knowledge. Inquiry makes learning meaningful, and that’s a powerful thing.