Within These Halls of Learning

The Project Approach

 

The developmental process in Preschool is hard at work with “The Project Approach” in KinderKlasse, Prekindergarten, and Kindergarten classrooms. Based on the philosophies of Lillian Katz and Sylvia Chard in their book Engaging Children’s Minds and encouraged through professional development seminars with The Duke School, our preschool teachers are engaging Lexington School students’ minds in a way that is child directed and individually driven. In conjunction with the integrated, thematic preschool curriculum, The Project Approach is about presenting a topic that children recognize naturally and giving them the freedom and tools to discover the topic completely but in their own way.

 

For example, in Prekindergarten, the teachers (facilitators in this case) brought in a post-hole digger and asked the children to tell them what it was. After a few guesses, the children concluded it dug holes for fence posts. At that moment a topic for exploration was born, “Fences.” From then on, using the inquiry approach, the children in Pre-K are encouraged to explore fences in a way that works for each individual. Brainstorming sessions begin the conversations, and questions take over from there. Some children draw various fences while others take clipboards and take surveys about different types of fences. Some children build fences with Legos or Popsicle sticks while others take supervised walks to investigate or create graphs.

Some children create stories. Within the project approach there is plenty of room for cross-curricular studies of every single appropriate subject and skill for our Preschoolers. Our preschool teachers are flexible facilitators during the Project Approach, as they never know where the three, four, and five-year-old minds will take them. They are willing to bring in experts like architects, to take walks around campus, to pull out materials from the closet they never imagined they would need. By the end of the project, the fences are the least important part of the learning; rather, our preschoolers have learned how to ask good questions, how to think critically and investigate a topic, and most importantly, how to have fun learning about something in their individual ways!