STEM and STEAM
Discovery Preschool’s curriculum relies on play-based learning. This is an active hands-on approach to learning that compliments the inquisitive nature of a child. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) projects form the cornerstones of our curriculum. Displaying what we have learned through stories, journals and visual arts (2 and 3 dimensional creations) promotes the integration of literacy and the arts – in effect we move from STEM to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math). Children develop concepts over time using inquiry-based learning and project approach. Projects for discovery are derived from knowledge of early learners as well as from child interests and questions about the world (emergent curriculum). Curriculum is integrated across the many domains of learning.
Inquiry Based Learning and Project Approach
Learning starts with a central question – for example “how does a chick know it is time to hatch?” question from a 3 day student . We begin as a group thinking about what we know and what we don’t know as well as what we want to know about this question. Students and teachers identify resources that may help us to answer these questions – perhaps books, web searches, fieldtrips or interviews of knowledgeable people. In this manner the project begins to unfold. Children document their learning throughout the process or near the end of the process as appropriate.
The teaching staff at Discovery Preschool are inspired by the work of many learning theorists (Vygotsky, Gardener, Bronfenbrenner to name a few) as well as educational models including the Reggio Emilia Approach. Children are seen as competent and deserving of directing their own learning. Children’s questions often form the basis of new learning – curriculum “emerges” from children’s interests and queries about the world around them. Teachers work with children as partners on the road to discovery.
The Vermont Agency of Education has identified 8 domains of learning to be addressed in preschool education. Their document – The Vermont Early Learning Standards (VELS) guides educators in creating curriculum, environments and learning opportunities that are developmentally appropriate as well cross-disciplinary. Children learn through rich self-directed and teacher guided activities that reach across the domains of learning. In this curriculum delivery model music is not only an opportunity for expression in the arts but also an opportunity to develop movement, language and social studies skills. Math can be expressed in art representations as well as support science discoveries. Learning about ourselves, each other and the world around us is enriched through art, music and movement experiences; stories and games; drawing and writing; speaking and listening to each other.