Friday, June 16, 2006

Play Group: Day 8

Today, well, is my last day I will be at the the Play Group in a very long time. They'll be off for 5 weeks of Winter holidays..

I read the story to them....actually, when I brought the books home yesterday, I read it once to my housemate, Justin. Then my other housemate's sister, Helen also read it.(she was doing Early Childhood in TAFE as well!) Justin started complaining coz he had to hear it twice . *LOL*.

Well, if you remember, I wrote about one of the girls, Cammie*, last Friday.

Actually, the little girl had asked me if I knew what her name was....I was pretty surprised when she said that...(as I never knew any 4 year old who had ever asked me in that way before!)

Truth be told, I couldn't remember, and I didn't want to hurt her feelings, so I asked one of the other mothers! We were at the dressing up corner.

Then I went over to the collage making table and beckoned Cammie over. Which she did.
I was watching her at the table, and Cammie's mother came over to sit by us, and asked the former if she knew who I was.

Me: She's pretty observant, isn't she? Kind of knows what she wants....
I remember her asking you something about "Who is that lady, and what she doing here?" when I came.
Mother: Yeah......You've been here for 3 weeks?
Me: 2 weeks. 2 Fridays actually. (It would seem that long anyway...)
Mother: Well, last week she told me something about you..
Me: Me?.....Oh. She did? What did she say?
Mother: She said, "I like that lady. She's my friend".
Me: Woah...Ohhhh........she didn't tell me anything like that though. *LOL*

Now, isn't that the most interesting little girl you'd have ever come across? I don't think I've ever come across any 4 year old who'd have ever told me that!

*Names changed to protect the child's privacy.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Play Group: Day 7

Well....well...Tomorrow's the last day the play group will be open
before their winter holidays start.

I will be reading them a story (or maybe 2!) tomorrow. So I borrowed
the books back to practice with it.

I spoke to WS, who also happens to be my distance course lecturer for
one of my courses in Sem 3, 2005. I said that I didn't actually know
the results for my course, except for the fact that I passed, and she
asked me to check online.

So I did, and went online earlier to check, and I saw my results. 42/
60 for the 2nd assignment.

I only barely passed the first one, and I had a hard time trying to
explain the Bronfenbrenner's Bio-Ecological Model last year, (for the
first assignment). Hmmmm.....she just said that as long as I passed
the course, it was alright.

(But not when it comes to the Grade Point Average though). *Sigh*

I took a video of WS reading to the children, and will burn her a copy of it.

Not a very happenin day today though.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Play Group: Day 6

WS mentioned that I left early which I didn't give a reply in return. *Hmmm* What could I say? I could have told her, but....maybe another time when it is more appropriate. I guess??

My lecturer, Leisa dropped by, to which I told her the circumstances that I am currently in. I would say that it's the cultural adjustment that I am still trying to get over with. The interaction style that I am used to in KL, would not be suitable in Toowoomba

(or in an International School context where there are many foreign international students. This happened to me a couple of years back when I was back in KL, so I can tell you that from experience!)

The way that parents interact with their children is similar almost everywhere, but at the same time, there are elements which are different. For me now, I am still concerned with the "right" and "wrong" way of approaching the children here. My lecturer told me that the best way to approach it is to observe WS when she interacted with the children and parents, using her as a basis I can model my interactions on. I think that that is a good advice.

I guess, now is the best time to use my knowledge (after all the amount of reading I have done!) and put it into practice. What is knowledge (theoretical as it is) if it can be made use of, isn't it?

The best part about today is that I actually finally sat down with the children (and parents) and read to them from my resource book. (It is not that much different of how I would have done in KL anyway..) but the most important part is that I got it done. I still need more practice...but heck. I need to get started somehow. Somewhere.

I told my lecturer about how I wrote my science resource appraisal, and she said that if it was in the wrong direction, she would get back to me. I told her that I would re-do it if it was necessary, but *I am crossing my two fingers*. Re-doing an assignment is not really a problem for me, as long as I get the context right.

Digressing here, I would like to write about something and bring up a point that a classmate of mine, SY brought up in mid-2005 when she returned to KL after one semester in Toowoomba. SY said that when she was on a bus ride one day to town to Grand Central, that she saw pre-teen girls dressed up too adult-ish for their age, even though they were barely in their teens. They were talking about boys and all that kind of things. To tell you the truth, I really didn't think too much of it then, as I thought it was pretty normal for people here.

That is, until a local parent brought this same subject up today. We were actually talking about Enid Blyton storybooks (and I how I loved the Five-Find-Outers!), but somehow the topic changed to what children did these days.

The parent (who has a large family herself and children in their early 20s) brought up a similar point, stating that she notices that children these days, and the girls rather, at a young age want to dress like adults.

Instead of watching shows appropriate to their age, they are watching teen Beverly Hills 90210 soap-opera-ish shows like Home & Away, and OC. She was out at a supermarket one day, and overheard aconversation that a young girl (who looked about 8 years of age) who asked her mother for a "g-string"! Surprisingly the girl's mother didn't disapprove of it.

Not wanting to critique too much, but even children's shows like Hi-5 (which I actually enjoy watching, and so do children and girls in KL like!) perpeatuate this style of dressing.

(which is something that I noticed initially about the style of dressing, but I was more concerned about the content of the show, but that is a totally different topic altogether).

I was actually surprised that in the Australian context, the Anglo-Australian parents are concerned that their children (mostly about the girls) that children are no longer dressing like children. In dressing like adults, I mean clothes like jeans that are hanging and showing the bum, or spaghetti strap and piercings. I would have only expected that Asian-Australian parents to notice that, but I guess I was proven wrong in that point.

The thing about dressing adult-ish and looking adult-ish, is that people expect more adult behaviour from them, but the reality of the situation is that that is not necessarily true of the child themselves.

Anyway, I went to the library last night and borrowed a British published book I found on play-groups. It would make an interesting read, since there is much I do not know about playgroups. Play groups have been in existence for a long time, and one of the books was published in the early 70s. I will write more about it once I am done reading it.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Play Group: Day 5

Today I woke up early. Well, by definition of early, it means 7.30am
(which is the same time I wake up back in KL). Never did wake up any
earlier than that if I could possibly do.

I stayed up the night doing the report appraisal for my Science
Resource. It was not too difficult, but I hope it goes well?

Today, the children who came are mostly babies (as young as 5 months
or younger). What I observed about the younger toddlers are that they
tend to be on the shy side. It is the second day I will spend with
this group. It is different last week as it was my first day then.

However, as I have observed, and as one of the home-schooling mothers
Tania, observed, once the toddler has got to know the adult, they will
be a bit more open.

As it is, the needs of young babies and toddlers are that they will
and need to spend more time with their own parents (unless they were
in a full time childcare centre), before they are willing to go out
independently to explore on their own.

For that reason, I decided to leave the play group early, as I felt
that there was not much I could observe for today.Then I left to go to
the library to go and get some research done.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Play Group vs Kindergarten.

I was just wondering the differences between Play Groups, and the normal schools here.

What I have seen (so far) is that Student Teachers do not have access to parents during their practicals. In part, the parents also do not come in contact with these Student Teachers, I realize, due to the structure of the hierarchy in the system. Student teachers also have to refer to the main classroom teacher in all incidents. I came to be aware of that, as during the assessment of one of my courses, MOST and practically all the student teachers said that they do not come in contact with the parents, but the main class teacher does.

Play Group is the only place (I have seen so far) where the parents actually came (or talked to me). This is because parents have to be there for the entire duration of the playgroup time, and at normal schools, parents just drop their children off and go off straight to work. Parents who come to play groups are also mostly non-working, and mostly full time professional homemakers.

Human nature also dictates that (apart from the hierarchy), parents anywhere almost always refer to the main class teacher when she is present. However if the latter is away, then they will look for the next one in the ladder, which is the assistant, or the teacher aide, if there is a supply teacher, as she is the next one who knows the children best in the classroom. This principle applies not only in the classroom, but in any situation as well. In a nutshell, you can pretty much get the gist of the point I am trying to make here.

Anyway, a new ruling in Australia has come to pass which states that Single Mothers have to go back to work once their youngest child turns 5 years old, or their benefits, or the Allowance they receive will be reduced (or something of that sort).

I do not think that it would affect mothers in a playgroup, as most of the mothers who take the option of sending children there are by choice, and their circumstances allow them to do so, say, compared to one whose child is going to the normal school (which also starts at 4 years), and these mothers would mostly be financially stable to not need the financial assistance.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Play Group: Day 4.

science resource book
My science resource: a book I made.

craft paper bag
A paperbag craft I made at Play Group.

Well, if you noticed, I removed my last name from my pictures as well. As I have stated, no last names are allowed on my blogs, and even if I do mention them, it will only be their first name.

I made the paperbag craft at Play Group today, coz I realised that one of the children was watching me. She even asked the mother why was I there, and the mother told her that I was there to observe here.

When I take the turn to join in to make a craft at the table, it arouses the children's curiosity about who I am to them. Technically, it is a strategy for a stranger to come in and slowly join the children. Some of the children were quite outspoken, but most of them were rather shy, so I needed some time before they can get used to me being around them. As I made the craft, the girl kept watching me. She even gave me some of the red cuttings she had for her collage and put it in my hand as she saw me sticking collage on my paperbag. Then she ran back to the chair she was sitting.

I even played ball with one of the children, MD. He is about 2 years old, and he asked me if I wanted to play a game of "catch the ball" with him. Actually, I couldn't really catch what
he was saying, but it was clear enough for me to understand him. So I followed him out in to the pavement and he pointed to the ball.

Some mothers come in early to Play Group, as they realise their child finds it more difficult to mix with the others when everyone has arrived. However, if they come in early, their child has time to settle in with the others and greet them as they all start arriving in one by one. It's not a very uncommon strategy used by parents for their children, but also with adults themselves.

I used to use this trick when going for parties, as I do not like arriving at parties late. The rationale is that if you arrive early at a place, it allows you to move in slowly to the "mode of the place" earlier. Rather than arriving late, to a person who has just arrived, it looks like everyone else seems to belong and the former would feel like an outsider. To a child, depending on their temperament, some may not be able to handle such a situation. It really depends on the parents and how they are able to wisely handle the situation.

Blue Card: Working with Childen Check.

blue card

Australians have this issue with Identity Theft, as well as Privacy of the Individual. Whereas, in nations like Singapore, as well as Malaysia, we really do not care two hoots about such issues.

In Malaysia, the trend is unless, if I were to write something bad about a company, and put out their full name, and defame them, would I then get into trouble. You can see why it is an issue that partially affects why Australians don't blog. (Apart from the fact that not many Australians I have met ever even heard of blogging to begin with!). I am not really sure if it is because they don't like keeping journals, or they totally dislike writing!

Anyway, enclosed above is my BLUE CARD! If you were wondering how it looks like, the picture of my card above will give you a rather good idea. I have taken out my Last Name, my signature (yes, it is printed on the card!), as well as my registration number.

If an adult does not have a Blue Card, he or she is not allowed to work in the state of Queensland, Australia. This applies to all citizens, permanent residents, international students, local students or anyone, who wants to work with children, regardless of whether at school, the church group, paid employment or volunteer work, or private childcare.

When a child first enters school (or playgroup) in Australia, the parents will sign a letter stating that they give authorization for their child to be observed. In a way, it a procedure that will avoid trouble with legislation, and to provide documented evidence in the event of a disagreement (or trouble of any sorts).

Us malaysians (or singaporeans for that matter) are probably not aware of such issues as it is not really practised locally. Of course, if you are doing a correspondence course with a foreign educational institution, they will normally remind Education students to do just that.

I remember asking a parent to look at a parent authorization letter before I wanted to do an observation of her child in mid-2005, and she was wondering what it was about. *Lol*

Friday, June 09, 2006

My Blue Card finally here....

After weeks of waiting and waiting and waiting....
Finally, my long awaited Blue Card is here! I kissed the card the moment I opened it!!!

Technically it was supposed to arrive in the middle of May, but the letter was misdirected for the first letter, with a non-existing residential housing estate on an existing street. I bet the postman must have definitely got lost halfway...Ha ha ha.

Yes, I was praying so hard for it. When I called the Blue Card Commission on Wednesday, they told me that the letter had been re-sent back to sender....(Amazingly..)
Well. I can finally get started on my practicals now. My churchmates are like saying that I can even start advertising for jobs as childcarer and stuff. Ha.

Anyway, I finally made my Science Resource. It's a book, showcasing the different Natural & Processed Materials. I showed it to WS, the administrator, as well as my lecturer, Leisa. They said it was Good.....(OH....I am so happy. He he).

I was up all Thursday night working on it. I bought all the materials on Wednesday, and was so tired by the time I got home. Then I put the papers together and went about enquiring about if there were any book binding services in the vicinity.

You would think that the staff, or the students who have been here for years and years would know.....but no. Fortunately I had the fore-sight to look the website, and I noticed that the university actually has a Printing Building. Well, you can't print and not bind, and you can't bind without something which was printed. I put the two and two together, and I guessed that (by hook or by crook), there has to be such services on the campus.

Actually, I didn't have any bright ideas what to write about. I was praying so hard for an idea to come up to my mind......and one just popped up. Well, actually a few popped up, and I was thinking of illustrating, but, cartoons are not exactly an easy way to depict natural resources to children, so I had to skip that idea. So finally, I just decided on the "butchering" catalogues which featured real pictures of objects. That looked more realistic. I also included some "touch and feel" objects in the book, so that the children could get a more realistic idea of the concepts of the natural and processed materials.....

Well, I kind of enjoy going to the Play Group centre. It's not really work, but it helps me to acclimatize to the kind of learning environment here. And it makes me wakes up earlier than normal...or else I will be sleeping in till 12pm every day.

Hei, that means I have to wake up by 7am, to cook & prepare breakfast, and pack some morning tea, and get everything packed in my backpack. The Play Group starts at 9am, so I have to be there early, and prioritize my time on when to sleep and wake up...
The first day, I was pretty shy, as I was trying to get used to the environment, and by the 3rd I was there, I started talking to all the parents who came in. They were quite interested to know that I was from Malaysia, and asked me heaps on my country.

Play Groups allow children to play with other children, and socialise with others. It also prepares the child for the concept of "school" before formally entering school.
The parents, meanwhile, take this opportunity to get to socialise with other adults. It can be once, or twice a week. Play Groups allow children to socialise with others in the presence of their parents, and using their parents as a safety net to return to. It also allows the administrator to observe the toddler's behaviour, and watch for developmental milestones.

In the Play Groups, parents play a more major role, and the adminstrator basically, well, is there as a facilitator. They also provide advice and parenting training to parents who need it.
However, once the children start attending kindergarten at the age of 4 -4.5 years onwards, the teachers play a more major role in the environment.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Play Group: Day 1

This morning, I woke up rather early to go in to observe the children at the play group centre. I was quite excited, to be exact. I wanted to ask the administrator, WS, what I needed to do, or I could do when the children came in.

Now, if you were wondering what is a playgroup centre, it is basically a place where parents bring their children (babies, toddlers to about 5 years and older) to get acquainted with other parents who do the same. For this centre, they do it once a week, and on the same day each week.

Play Groups exist a lot in places like UK, Australia, and all these western nations. It also does exists in Malaysia, but very rarely heard of. Children at the age of 3 are expected to start learning to read the letters of the alphabet, and learn 3 languages before starting pre-school. I think it is ridiculous that Malaysian parents expect their children to read English, Malay and Chinese before starting Primary 1. The schools should just focus on learning to read and write English, and Chinese, and just speak spoken Malay.

Malay and English use the same Roman 24 letters of the alphabet, and I feel that it would seriously confuse the child, who has to differentiate between both languages, which has some similar words, and the pronunciation of the letters are different as well.

Anyway, before I start deviating from the main topic...

It was essential that I spent some time observing at the centre, as I really needed the time to get used to the environment, as I really do not know how the routines, or the playgroup is run. It was necessary, as I come from a learning environment which is heavily structured, and highly teacher controlled.

I did feel a bit at loss at the carefree freedom and freedom of choice allowed even as low as at playgroup level, as I didn't know what to expect from the children, or the environment itself. However, with this group, it was the children's own parents who looked out for their own children, so I really didn't have to much, except perhaps to just sit back and observe from a distance away.

I will be going in tomorrow again, so that I could acclimatize myself to the centre better. Yup. Acclimatize.

There are a few points in relation to the centre that I have to take note of in regard to the resource that I will create. Firstly, the children only come in once a week for he play groups. So, because of that, it would take a while before the children can get to know me. I could also see that the children knew that a newcomer was in their presence, and I could see that it was either they were shy, or hesitant to talk to me. Which I was not sure, nor could I tell.

As this is not a group of children that I would have under my observation for a long while, it would be not practical for me to prepare a resource (like a feelie/mystery bag) as I would not know what the children's prior knowledge,where or what kind of things that the chldren will

I have narrowed my options to make a board book. Out of the board book, I have narrowed it to about two options, being, either a "touch and feel book", or, a big book that talks about the different kinds of materials in the environment. (one of the Outcomes in the QSA guidelines).

It would also have to be taken note, the children's ages who come in to the Centre, so that it would be appropriate to their context, and that the board book that I would make is at least content relevant for their age, but still challenging enough that they could think about it, or relate something they know (like when they are doing something) to it.

My impression is that a book (or one in a storybook context) would be much more appropriate in a context where I am able to read to them, and leave it on the shelf so that they can take it and look at it without an adult's supervision. This would definitely meet the safety aspects of the resource.

The first day was not bad..I even managed (arranged by WS) to talk to one of the parents who told us all about HomeSchooling, and why she home-schooled all her 5 children. The parents were having morning tea, and I didn't know how to go in to the group, so the administrator did the initiating.

Yes, if you want to know too...we do have HomeSchooling in Malaysia as well. By law, children have to attend a normal elementary school for the first 6 years of elementary school. But families are allowed to homeschool their children after that for their highschool years. However, that's another topic altogether...

Seriously, I do just pray that my Blue Card would arrive soon. This whole issue about the Blue Card has really inconvenienced (and I am sure a lot of students are complaining about it) students who need access to children, as a lot of our courses are linked to practicals, and we need to test out these resources, in order to complete our assignments.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Problem- Based Learning.

I had left one of my Problem-Based reference books that I borrowed from the library on the table, when one of my Aussie-born mates came in and saw it. He made this rather distasteful look on his face and said that he didn't like any of these PBL stuff. (He is my Aussie flat-mate).

Which is interesting, as my knowledge on it is mostly theoretical....

Well, this mate is majoring in Engineering, and he said that he had to do a Problem-Solving course and he was one of the guinea-pigs that did the course.

He stated that it was an awful experience, as the assignments were mostly group based, and as much as (wishful as it sounds to be able to work peacefully and co-operatively as a group, where everyone did their fair share of the assignment) he wanted to do well in the assignment, it was mostly a horse shit experience to him. Out of four PBL courses he had to do, only one was properly structured, and workable to his knowledge.

The case went where, it was either the assignments were too difficult, or deemed impossible & unworkable, or some members of the group decided to drop out, or did not do anything at all. The ones that scored a HD, basically did everything on their own, and lied that everyone had put in a fair share of the work, but which basically was squat work.

He went on to say that the lecturers were not much of a help, as many of the students were not able to make head or tail of the assignments. (I lost him halfway....)

In which case, I would like to state the case of another Aussie-born mate of mine who told me about his case. He majored in Business, and had a group assignment where he did his share of the assignment, but his team-mates somehow managed to alienate him, and handed in the group assignment without including his name! He was obviously un-nerved by this, and went to the lecturer to plead his case.

As theoretical, and rhetorically the institutions would like to implement Problem-Based learning, there are many aspects that course- coordinator should look into, before doing so....As I much as I would like to write much on it, that is not the case, as my knowledge on this is still rather superficial. Of course, group work will always be difficult. I can say that having lived before with house-mates whom one cannot get along with, it really is able to drive one up the wall, and out of the house. I concur!

A time of frustration: Science Resource

I wrote an entry a few days back where I was pretty pissed off with my Science assignment. However, it is not something I would want others to read it, as I by nature (now) do not like to talk bad about things. In particular, when I have a bad eery feeling about it.

Anyway, I went to see my Science lecturer about it today, and was complaining about my designing and creating of my Science Resource.

I was thinking of doing a Feelie/ Mystery bag, but then she said that it didn't have adequate science content. So then I went home and thought of doing something under Solids & Liquids. I was quite sceptical about that one as well, as it had safety concerns, as well as the fact that it was very teacher-controlled (or needed a teacher or some other more mature student) as the control of error.

The lecturer said that it could be an activity that could be done at the end of a unit, partly as a reinforcement, but, then I told that was not possible, since I was not doing my practical, due to the absence of my Blue Card.

Then the lecturer, Leisa, said that the assignment assumes that all students doing it would be "theoretically" engaged with some children, or practicals. Hence, she emailed the uni Play Group centre administrator today so that I could go and try out the science resource with the chldren.

Which leads to the next point. Since I do not have much time at hand, the next thing at hand would be that, the science resource would very much depend also on the ages of the children at the childcare centre at the university.

I have narrowed my options to two. One, which is to create a "touch & feel" book, or two, to create a big book, with pictures categorizing Natural & Processed Materials.

I feel that the Touch and Feel book would be much more appropriate with younger toddlers, whereas, the Big Book would be suitable for the chldren of 4 & 5 years old.
As much as I would think I would want to make a Touch and Feel book, I prefer to do the Big Book instead.

If I were to do so, I have to go around getting pictures off picture brochures from shopping malls, and also photographs (from my digital camera).

Anyway, tomorrow I will be going off to the uni PlayGroup centre to go and observe the children. As much as I would like to go and use the resource with the chldren, I think that it is best that I get a feel of how the childcare centre works, so I don't get cold feet. And yes, I dont like the idea of just going into some centre and say, "hei, can I borrow your kids for a while".

That is SO NOT me.

I like the idea of the book, as it is much more easier to work with the children in the form of a story. And yes, I am thinking of ideas of how to incorporate science learning through the usage of a story form. It's more engaging and child centred in that sense, I think.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Report: Constructivism- approach to teaching science(Part 2)

This is a continuation from the entry here.

c) Transmission approach

The transmission approach to teaching science is the strategy of transmitting knowledge through use of teaching materials and demonstrations to an audience, and does not allow individual one-to-one attention between the teacher and learner.

This teaching strategy is the most widely used and especially in most traditional classroom contexts. However, the way it is used would depend hugely on the teacher’s understanding of this strategy to transmit knowledge to the classroom.

Among the advantages of using this strategy is that being the traditional form of teaching strategy and the one mostly used, the teacher is able to have a sense of control and use it in managing large group of learners in a classroom. Other advantages include that children would be able to be highly involved and focused during the learning.

The use of demonstrations of the teaching materials is an important instrument which could be utilized to initiate the children’s curiosity of scientific ideas. This, the teacher could use as a “stepping stone”, taking opportunities of “teachable moments” when it happens to cross over into discovery learning. It also raises queries, focusing the children’s curiosity about a unit to be studied, clarifying confusion and tie loose ends. (Abruscato, 1992)

The challenge is for the teacher to be able to select & modify the learning content that its content is both age and language appropriate, assuming a continuity to bridge the learner's prior knowledge. (Fleer & Hardy, p.78- 79).

The disadvantages to this learning strategy is that it places a heavy emphasis on scientific knowledge to be learnt (Fleer & Hardy, 1996), being a teacher- initiated and not learner-centred environment. It also does not allow students to have a say in what they want to learn in science curriculum (Fleer & Hardy, 1996)

As Fleer & Hardy states (1996, p.80) states, the probability of the teacher in failing to motivate children as well as authenticity of student’s participation is high, and that there is only a superficial understanding of science concept as an idea.

How it may improve my teaching?

As teaching professional, the knowledge would assist me in the management of the classroom, through strategies such as providing children with basic grounded concepts and ideas before allowing them to undergo any tasks or science investigations, in order that students are able to ‘make meaning” of the lesson. (Fleer & Hardy, 1996)

Other strategies include that to be an effective teacher, one should make good sense to learn about the student’s prior knowledge in an attempt to link it to the activity that the teacher would teach. (Fleer & Hardy, 1996).

d) Interactive aka. Conceptual Change Teaching Approach

This approach as a teaching strategy is a culmination of the of each of the other three teaching strategies, and consists of five main components: preparation, exploratory activities, children’s questions, children’s investigations, reflection (Biddulph & Obsborne, as cited in Bell, p. 94) The teacher using this strategy has four main teaching roles, namely being the stimulator of curiosity, challenger of ideas, resource person, as well as senior investigator (Biddulph, as cited in Bell, p. 99).

This teaching strategy places heavy emphasis on the importance of both science concepts & the processes of science, with a teaching focus on achieving change in the strategies children use to make meaning of their world. It assumes the importance that children have knowledge of their own understanding and learning processes, and they should be taught to do so.(Fleer & Hardy, p. 112-113)

It is about achieving conceptual change in children It emphasizes the importance of exploring children's initial understandings, encouraging a high level of responsibility in pupils for self directed learning, and assistance is doing so. It must be carefully introduced so that the student-teacher can develop and consolidate both skills and understanding about the processes involved. (Fleer & Hardy, p.118).

The advantages to this approach is that it builds in processes that focus on conceptual change in children, lending itself to a vast range of topics, which must be linked to children’s experiences and interests. (Appleton, 1993, p. 199)

Other advantages include that this strategy is able to stimulate children’s interest in science concepts and intellectual and investigation skills would have developed in the course of investigating topics (Biddulph & Obsborne, as cited in Bell, p. 94)

The disadvantages to it is that it may be too ritualistic as a teaching-learning strategy and may create problems in covering a curriculum (Appleton, p. 199). Teachers may have trouble getting adequate relevant resources for all subject areas, and may feel pressured to conform to traditional practices when evaluating (Biddulph , as cited in Bell, p. 96)

Reflect- on impact on the way I have been taught before?

I come from a cultural background whereby the context relies heavily, and emphasizes the utilization of the transmission approach as a strategy to transmit information and knowledge to learners. Knowledge is merely an abstract concept, and teachers do not have the time to be able to cater to the sheer amount of students who may not understand the concepts. Students are not expected, nor wanted to question the scientific concepts posed, but just merely memorize by rote, and regurgitate it out during examinations. As such, critical thinking skills and processes are not able to be developed nor flourish under such repressed environments.

Discovery learning is not an approach emphasized even at preschool level as the children are expected to learn and know three languages, and not just merely one! This does not give the leeway or the time needed by the children, as teachers need to cover the curriculum areas, and children need such time to be able do develop their observation and concentration skills. Yet again, many administrators have to give way and conform to the expectations of society in order for their institutions to survive financially. Peer based learning, or co-operative learning groups are unable to flourish under such environments, as the children concentrate more on memorization rather than social development skills.

An interest in professional teaching institutions is growing, and tertiary institutions are beginning to be established. However, it would take the span of ten years and more, before there would be adequate supply of trained teachers to be able to change the trend in teaching here, as in context, the culture and political situation does not provide for such flourishing situations yet.

Outline my personal approach, how it had been developed

An understanding of what, how and when a teaching professional would like to teach is influenced by the their understanding of theory and philosophy in Early Childhood

Other factors such as the underlying theories and philosophy behind Early Childhood curriculum decisions and the teacher’s own personal experience will affect what the teacher is and is not able to bring into the classroom.

The context where I come from, mostly only provides for merely the use of transmission approach, and textbook learning. However, after undergoing training in Montessori methodology, it has changed my view on the learning approach. The Montessori approach emphasizes much on hands-on learning, through using of the 5 senses, hands and mind.

It also emphasizes skills in most of the approaches as written above, which is discovery learning, which emphasizes exploration of materials, peer and multi-age learning. The Montessori methodology also places much importance in the child on the development of the scientific processes, and to a degree the utilization of transmission learning by the teacher.

This knowledge has allowed me to develop my own personal outlook of teaching, whereby I now view that the teaching of young children is not limited to the textbook, nor by the book, but it is through planning and providing the children with purposeful and meaningful activities. These activities which caters to their interests, as well as careful observation from the teacher and allowing them the opportunity and the freedom to communicate and interact with each other which could contribute more to their learning than the teacher could ever transmit.

It is important that as an early childhood professional who is working with children in pre-operational and concrete operational stages of cognitive development, that I carefully assess and observe their cognitive development as it will “bear much fruit” (Gega, 1994) and be satisfying for a teacher to see how much the child has developed in that span of time due to their dedication and love for the child.

However, the utilization of my skills would be very much dependent on the preschool’s ethos and the kind of learning content it places emphasis on.

The context from which I come from, is mostly a teacher initiated and teacher controlled classroom environment, and pays much emphasis on transmission learning, with a significant amount of knowledge and expectancy that the children should learn and remember (Fleer & Hardy, 1996) . As such, I find it difficult to be able to even use the skills and knowledge in such an environment, as the staff and other teaching professionals may not understand, and this may cause much pressure in the environment.
The understanding of the different strategies, and the experiences and outlook of the other teaching professionals throughout my readings, has enabled me to broaden my view that it is much more dependent on the teacher’s attitude and mindset, and willingness to learn with the children, which could propel the process and is an important factor and motivation for the teacher in preparing to plan and teach the concepts to a classroom full of children.


This paper has attempted to examine the different learning strategies based on constructivism that teaching professionals are able to utilize in their teaching of science in the classroom.

The different context which places emphasis on the kind of learning content and processes will influence the kinds of learning outcome in the educational institution. Regardless of whether in elementary, or in a higher learning institution, these are the factors that will influence the manner which teaching professionals are able to teach. The quality of professional training and the teacher’s background theory knowledge of the different strategies will also influence their classroom management skills and how they are able to purposefully transmit the content of their curriculum in a creative yet learner centered manner.

Developing a purposeful and creative science teaching curriculum with the right attitude in mind is important, and as Gega states (1994, p. 19) it develops in children the kinds of attitudes, ways of thinking, and a solid knowledge base that promote success in the real world.


Abruscato, J (1992) “Discovery learning: teaching strategies, textbooks, and management techniques. Integrating science with other subjects’, Teaching children science, 3rd edn, Allyn & Bacon, USA, pp.72-109

Appleton, K (1993) “Using theory to guide practice: teaching science from a constructive perspective’, School science and Mathematics, vol. 93, no. 5, pp.269-74.

Bell, Beverley (1995) Children’s Science, Constructivism and Learning in Science, Deakin University: Australia.

Fleer, M & Hardy, T (1996), Science for children: developing a personal approach to teaching, Prentice Hall, Sydney, pp.71-83.

Gega, Peter.C (1994) Science in Elementary Education: 7th Edition, Macmillan Publishing Company: USA.

Martin.D (2001) Constructing early childhood science. Delmar Thomson Learning


Harlan, JD, & Rivkin, MS (1996), “Guiding discovery science’, Science experiences for the early childhood years: an integrated approach, 6th edn, Prentice Hall Inc, Ohio, pp.27-44.

SAPA, Science- A Process Approach, as viewed on 23rd May 2006

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