Sparking Curiosity in Little Ones

What happens when a child brings their tadpoles to school? With a busy classroom to manage, some teachers might politely set them to one side with a nod and a smile. At XCL World Academy, this curiosity is encouraged and respected. Discover the ways in which a child’s simple yet curious actions can lead to profound and authentic learning experiences.

The power of child-led inquiry

The most authentic form of inquiry starts with a child’s personal interest or wondering. What follows is an unwavering commitment to find the answers to their own questions. Occasionally, these inquiries extend beyond the individual child, triggering a “snowball” effect, where a multitude of questions, ideas and theories begin to flourish. These spontaneous inquiries are not premeditated by teachers and may not always align with the classroom curriculum, yet they are fuelled by genuine interest and an authentic thirst for knowledge. They embody a truly student-driven approach, where teachers assume the role of facilitators rather than planners.

One example is five-year-old Aidan, Early Years student at XCL World Academy. Aidan recently relocated to a new residence and decided to bring along some tadpoles from his home pond to share with the class. Upon their arrival in the classroom, the children were given the freedom to observe and study the tadpoles. However, it didn’t take long for them to realise that the tadpoles were challenging to see due to their small size and the murky water they lived in. In response to this predicament, the children collectively expressed their desire for “close glasses” to enhance their visual experience and gain a clearer view of the fascinating tadpoles.

Engaging in classroom discussions, the children soon learned that the optical devices they needed were called “magnifying glasses.” They further explored where in the classroom these tools could be located. Once equipped with this knowledge, the magnifying glasses were made readily available for their use. Inquisitive as ever, the children proceeded to raise new queries: “How can we ensure the well-being of the tadpoles? Who will look after them?” In order to address these pressing questions, they proposed seeking assistance from authoritative sources, such as consulting “Mr Google” or reaching out to individuals knowledgeable about tadpoles and their care.

The stream of questions continued to flow, and among them was Sofiya’s inquiry: “Can we be friends with tadpoles? Do tadpoles need a companion?” These questions proved to be exceptional, as it established a remarkable connection to our ongoing Unit of Inquiry, “Who We Are.” In our previous explorations, we had been delving into the concept of friends and the presence of shared interests. Thus, naturally, we pondered whether any connections existed between us and these fascinating tadpoles.

What’s the outcome of Aidan’s decision to bring his tadpoles to school?

It opened up avenues for discussions on various subjects such as science, mathematics, language, and personal and social education, thereby enabling connections to be made across different aspects of the school’s curriculum, specifically within the International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme (PYP) framework.

Interestingly, none of these discussions were premeditated by a teacher; they arose solely from the children’s inquisitive nature. This is precisely what we strive to foster and appreciate in our Early Years classes. Now, if only we could locate an individual well-versed in the care of frogs!

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