Home-based Early Learning Program

Added Advantage 

Serving London, Ontario 

Phase One

Project Work and Project Practice

Silvia Chard, in her Project Approach books, describes a project as:

  • An in depth studies that allow children to form a  relationship with their topic or object.
  • Projects can involve one child, a small group of children or the entire class.
  • Topics can be concrete or abstract, local or distant, present day or historical, small scale or large scale. They can last one day, several weeks or even months.
  • Noting that the younger the children the more concrete, local, present day, and small scale topics should be.

Projects begin for all sorts of reasons?

  • Some are sparked by the passion or interests of one or more of the children.
  • Some are based on inspirations of the educators through treasures brought into the program.
  • Some through impromptu conversations initiated during small group time.

Determining if this could be a project:

  • The initial role of the Educator is to carefully observe children?s work throughout their day.
  • To ?document? conversations  and interactions to determine emerging interests.
  • Asking themselves is this a project or investigation of interest to one child or multiple children?
  • Educators pay careful attention to children?s reflections and current knowledge, they provoke conversations around seeming areas of interest to see if children are interested in taking their interest to the next level.
  • Educators collaborate with each other to get the whole picture.

Determining what the project will offer participants:

  • In preparing for a project many discussions between parents, educators and children will help to determine if this is a topic ?worthy? of further investigation.
  • Educators and children need to determine what kind of resources are available for further investigation, fieldwork, hands on manipulation.
  • When choosing a project topic it is vital to remember that young children need to be able to see, feel, smell, hear and if possible taste materials to truly ?get to know them?.

Collaborating with Others:

  • Brainstorming the possible avenues of the investigation  or project or what some call ?Setting a Plan in Place? is primarily done with educators but should include the children where age appropriate.
  • In Reggio, the parents and community are so involved in the program, that they play a vital role in this part of the planning process.
  • Document your plan, this documentation forms the initial framework of your project and can be used to help a project maintain momentum.
  • Documentation can take place in so many ways ? choosing how to document will depend on the amount of space available.

In determining if your project is worthy ask yourself the following questions:

  • Can children get to know this topic? To really form a relationship with it? (Through opportunities for examing it with all thier senses...through seeing, feeling, hearing, smelling and if possible tasting it?)
  • What are the possible classroom activities that will add to investigations? Creative explorations, representations, storybooks, songs, open ended materials and additions?
  • Are there resources and materials available to continue to provoke interest? Local experts, in-house visitors, Internet websites, library books, donated materials, etc?
  • Possible field site visits to enhance investigations and stretch experiences?

If you can answer yes to these questions that chances are your project is worthy!

Phase One continues

Getting Families involved!

 Sending out a Project Intent Letter A letter typically includes:

  • Topic of investigation ? and learning opportunities foreseen. We also include a copy of our brainstorm web to show the richness of the experiences we thought this investigation would bring.
  • List of materials and resources you are trying to borrow or have donated for the project ? educators do not need to do all the leg work. The more the children and families are involved the more invested they are in the experience.
  • Desired Experts / In house visitors and an invitation for parents to suggest family member or neighbors who could assist.
  • Planned field site excursions ? to prepare parents and see if they have any connections to get you into cool places.

Determine What Children already know!

 A really important part of project approach is the role of educators in inspiring children?s interest into investigating a topic further and further or deeper.

  • The power of the open-ended questions plays an integral role. Remembering that learning to ask open ended ?I wonder? questions comes naturally to some and others it will take practice ? try brainstorming possible ones to ask to jog memory.
  • Document and post what the children want to know your ?I Wonder? questions. This forms a point of reference to reflect back on as the project unfolds and can also be added to as new questions arise.