Since children’s understandings of their environment are formed early in life, it is important to encourage their attitudes of respect and interest during their early childhood education. This paper describes an exemplary programme of “fearless science” in a rural, community-owned, childcare centre in New Zealand, catering, in their over-two year old section, for families with children from 3–5 years of age. Children are viewed as capable and competent scientists; their interests at home and at the centre are extended as in-depth investigations and their development of expertise in science processes is tracked alongside their maturing understandings of specific concepts and larger life themes. The supportive, rural community of learning is instrumental maintaining the teachers’ efforts and the co-construction of science for children. The teacher-researchers documented activities and learning for participants in science investigations, from the identification of interest, to evolving activities and the learning accrued by children, teachers and their families. The importance of teachers’ ongoing development of their own scientific understandings, in supporting the centre and the children’s investigations, is highlighted. The framework for the research report is neo-Vygotskian activity theory, which encourages consideration of all aspects of the community, in teaching and in research.
|Keywords:||Fearless Science, First Years Preschool, Early Childhood, Co-Construction, Action Research, Activity Theory|
Senior Lecturer, Early Years, School of Arts Development and Health Education, Massey University College of Education, Palmerston North, New Zealand
Te Tari Puna Ora o Aotearoa New Zealand, New Zealand Childcare Association, New Zealand