Importance of Inquiry-Based Learning for Preschoolers  

The methods used to teach children play a significant role in how they learn and grow in the future. Inquiry-based learning is a relatively new approach to learning that has become popular across the world. This unique approach is built around the idea that learning should be an active process and when students are allowed to discover and explore things actively for themselves, there is a higher probability for them to understand and retain new information.   

In this learning environment, as students work through a topic or problem, they are encouraged to make observations, ask questions, and test hypotheses. The process often involves many different types of activities such as conducting experiments, collection of data, analysis of evidences, and finally, deriving and presenting solutions. Most importantly, inquiry-based learning provides a more meaningful and relevant way for children to engage with different materials.  

From the perspective of a child, this learning methodology helps them nurture their natural curiosity and think outside the box for solving their day-to-day problems. For teachers, this provides a great opportunity to create more engaged learners by encouraging students to explore and investigate the world beyond what they see in front of them.  In addition to traditional classroom settings, this learning technique can also be used in online learning environments as well as more informal settings.  

A typical process of inquiry instruction involves four steps.  

  • Children are provided with a question or instructed to create a question. 
  • The topic is researched in the class through asking questions under the guidance of a teacher. 
  • Children present their findings after creating an investigation method and finding the answer.  
  • Finally, the teacher encourages the students to reflect upon the process.  

Types of Inquiry-based Learning 

Inquiry-based learning can be divided into four different types, each with different structural levels.  

  • The most structured methodology of inquiry-based learning is known as structured inquiry. In this method, an open-ended question as well as a method of inspection is provided to children. Students come up with an evidence-based conclusion using the question and investigation method.  
  • In confirmation inquiry, children are provided a question as well as its answer, along with the method to derive the answer. Here, the task for the children is to build the investigation retroactively and learn the specific method. 
  • In guided inquiry, just a question is provided. Working in group, the students reach a conclusion by creating an investigation method.   
  • Open inquiry is the least structured type of inquiry-based learning. Here children pose a question, construct their own investigation method, and work towards an answer.    

Benefits of Inquiry-based Learning 

  • The core concept of this methodology is to guide and encourage children to learn on their own and find solutions using their natural curiosity. These lessons can go a long way in building their confidence and self-esteem. These learning can make a difference not only in the classrooms, but in many other situations of life down the road.  
  • Inquiry learning provides children more say over their own education. As they seek solutions to different problems on their own, they feel extremely fulfilled with their way of learning things.  
  • Inquiry-based learning helps children better understand the nature of a problem and how it can be resolved.    

If you have more questions related to the developmental needs of your preschooler, please contact our expert educators at Valley Heights Preschool Long Day Care Centre.