6 Reasons to Embrace Project-Based Learning in Early Childhood Classrooms
The Creative Curriculum Studies Approach
Many early childhood educators have spent time studying child learning theorists and their theories. One of the prominent theories often taught is constructivism. At the heart of constructivism is the idea that people make (i.e., construct) their own knowledge by taking something new and linking it to something they already know. Some well-known constructivist theorists are John Dewey, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Jean Piaget, and Lev Vygotsky. The theories of these famous thinkers show up in the ways teachers approach teaching and learning in the early childhood classroom.
Teachers who embrace constructivism focus on children’s interests, using developmentally appropriate practices and giving children hands-on learning experiences. These teaching strategies are also common themes in project-based learning. If you use The Creative Curriculum, this approach may sound familiar to you. It’s how we have designed the studies in The Creative Curriculum Teaching Guides.
What Are Studies?
Studies are hands-on, project-based investigations of topics that children are interested in and are relevant to their everyday experiences. Children raise questions about the topic, and, through exploration and discovery, they find answers to their questions. In project-based learning, there are three phases: getting started, investigating, and celebrating learning at the end of the investigation. This approach integrates content in exciting and engaging ways, tapping into children’s natural curiosity. The result is a learning environment that is intentionally fun for children.
The study approach allows for deep, firsthand exploration of topics that interest children, offering a myriad of ways to learn. Plus, the study approach not only allows children to gain a deeper understanding of the topic, but also encourages them to develop skills across all domains as they apply the investigative process.
The study topics featured in the Teaching Guides offer plenty of flexibility for teachers to incorporate many of the typical themes that are used in other preschool classrooms or to add content that is relevant and meaningful to the children in their classrooms. This flexibility is critical to ensuring the curriculum is appropriate for all children. The studies also integrate learning across developmental and content areas and enable teachers to plan hands-on experiences.
Advantages of Studies
- Allow children to explore science and social studies topics while developing skills in language and literacy, math, technology, and the arts.
- Let children apply their acquired skills in meaningful, real-life contexts.
- Encourage higher-level thinking, development of intellectual interests, and positive approaches to learning.
- Give children the necessary skills to solve problems and find answers to their questions in a creative way.
- Support the development of social–emotional skills, such as resolving conflicts, sharing responsibilities, and working collaboratively.
- Encourage family involvement.
Inspire Children With Project-Based, Investigative Learning
Build children’s confidence, creativity, and critical thinking skills through hands-on, project-based investigations.