Enquiry Based Learning

Our traditional education methods used to focus on serving ONE correct answer to academic questions in schools. It was a one-way teaching process where the students were passive learners.  Asking questions was not encouraged or appreciated. Today, most preschools are moving away from traditional learning and leaning towards child-centered learning. With this, learning methods that encourage children to think, explore and wonder have gained popularity – and these are based on enquiry-based learning.   Enquiry-based learning is a great way to encourage children to investigate beyond what’s right in front of them, creating more engaged learners.  Instead of being made to listen and absorb information one-way, the child is actively involved in the process, which helps them to develop information processing and problem-solving skills. The teacher takes on the role of a facilitator allowing children to question and explore the many possible answers to one question.

To understand this method, let’s understand through an example of a popular preschool topic—Plants

  1. Initially, the teachers would ask general questions about plants around us, and listen for questions from children in order to lead them into an enquiry teaching and learning process. E.g. the children may ask why the plants are green or the reason some trees are so big or why plucking the flowers is not allowed.
  2. The teachers observe the children to find out their interests, some children talk about how they like to water the plants,  others might say how a plant had pricked them once.  Remember, all questions are valid and welcomed.
  3. Then, to guide them to the specifics of the topic—plants, the teachers plan provocations to develop the children’s thinking skills, inventiveness and reflectiveness. Provocations can be materials, objects, books, photos, drawings, nature specimens, and questions that develop a sense of curiosity in children. The teacher can show the children two plants-one which is not watered regularly and the other which gets enough water, sunlight, etc. The children can be asked about their observations.
  4. At this stage, the teachers can conduct a brainstorming session to find out what children already know as well as what they want to know.
  5. Next, the teachers plan activities for the children’s integrated enquiry teaching and learning experiences that include the sensory, motor, intellectual, and linguistic aspects. For eg. the teacher can provide a wooden puzzle of parts of a plant and let the children solve it by putting all the parts of the plant in their correct place.  This activity would help in enhancing all the aspects mentioned above.

Thus, enquiry based approach is an active learning approach where children are responsible for their own learning. The approach promotes collaborative learning and takes into account the perspective of others, teaching them to be mindful of their peers while learning and discovering at their own pace. It also requires more efforts and preparation on the part of teacher to prepare for such sessions as the right kind of questions lead to the right kind of learning .  But once a teacher gets used to this kind of teaching they find it very interesting and fulfilling  and then they may not want to go back to the traditional one way approach.

Developing thinking minds right from early childhood is the need of the day . We do not want to develop followers but leaders and enquiring minds will ultimately lead to creativity and leadership.

Benjamin Franklin rightly said,     “ Tell me and I will forget,

Teach me and I Remember.

       Involve me and I learn.”


Children develop much of their capacity for learning in the first six years of their lives. Given the course of brain development, it is not surprising that young children who are exposed to certain experiences usually prove to be good at those skills.

This window of 0-6 six years of a child’s life can be effectively used to develop several centres of intelligences of the brain. 

Creating opportunities and encouraging children to participate in stage activities like singing, dancing , drama , fancy dress  and other such events has a lot of benefits. 

  1. It develops communication and language skills.
  2. It allows children to act out and make sense of real-life situations
  3. It encourages children to explore, investigate and experiment,
  4. It develops social skills as children, collaborate with others.
  5. It helps  children to learn more as learning is disguised as play.
  6. The parents get an opportunity to witness their children not only coming out of their shells but also melting hearts of all the onlookers.

Preparing children for small dramas helps to improve their overall intelligences . Rehearsing lines and movements , performing them  requires concentration and helps children improve their memory. Working with the group encourages teamwork and collaboration.

Drama requires children to openly express themselves throughout the activity, which helps them become friends by supporting each other. And the best part of this is its learning with a lot of fun and enthusiasm . As a result these are remembered for life unlike other theoretical learnings.

Stage performance is a unique form of creative expression, and it takes a lot of courage to stand on a stage and perform in  front of an audience. Smaller stage environments like preschool functions encourage all children to express their creative ideas in an interactive, nurturing setting. Even the most shy of all the children will be able to build up their self-esteem through  such performances.

Also parents need to understand that like all other learnings this learning of public speaking skills is also a process and it will not happen instantly. Most children go through the process of crying or faltering in their initial performances . But continuous encouragement from parents and school and ongoing exposure will bear results. Very often it is noticed that after a few failed performances , the children pick it up and then there is no looking back . It is a skill acquired for lifetime so much so that we find children enjoying and thriving on stage activities in a year or two provided they get frequent opportunities to face an audience.

When a child is given space to be creative and their imaginations supported, it helps to build their confidence and their self-esteem levels. This confidence gained from performing on stage in the preschool years will be very useful later  in school like  becoming class leaders , prefects, student counsellors, anchoring shows , boldness to answer in a group and many others.

And all these exposures in student life are eventually building the life skill of public speaking and fearless thinking and expressing which will not only help them in their careers but also in every walk of life  throughout their lives. And when they will connect the dots then, they will realize it all started with small performances in preschool.



Montessori’s Theory emphasizes one key concept that has revolutionized the way children learn – the transition from concrete to abstract thinking. This approach involves immersing children in hands-on experiences with real objects before moving on to more abstract concepts and ideas.

The purpose of teaching through a concrete-to-representational-to-abstract sequence of instruction is to ensure students develop a tangible understanding of the math or any other concepts or skills they learn.

The young child moves from concrete thinking to abstract thinking as he begins to experience the world. As they acquire more concepts, they are able to mentally sort through these concepts and identify similarities and differences. They become more able to predict how new situations might develop.

When teaching kids anything new, it is important to remember to start with the concrete and move to the abstract. Many things in life are abstract (for example: addition and subtraction, a foreign language or phonics or vocabulary). It helps our kids  tremendously if we start by teaching concepts in a concrete manner and build up from there. By concrete, I mean they can see it and manipulate it with their hands.  If it applies, they can use all five senses so their brains can make as many connections with it as possible, building prior knowledge and a sturdy foundation for learning.

Take, for example, these three items: 1- the word apple, 2- a picture of an apple, and 3- an actual apple.

CONCRETE: an actual apple–it can be felt, manipulated, cut into, eaten, observed

LESS CONCRETE: a picture of an apple

ABSTRACT: the word apple

If a child has not had experience with the real apple, the word apple will not mean too much to her. It is the same with reading many unfamiliar words.  Our kids need to be able to feel it, manipulate it, “cut into it”, “taste it”, and observe it to make understanding come easier.

Ideas for moving from Concrete to Abstract


Pick activities that appeal to the five senses.  The more senses you can integrate into the lesson, the better!  It can be as simple as playing with ABC puzzles or manipulating magnetic letters to spell sight words. Segregation of 2 pulses into different bowls along with counting. Or patterns making or sequence building with different type of objects like spoon and bowls .


Visit a local fire house, a grocery store, a farm, a post office.

One mistake we can make with field trips is that we go after we’ve studied a certain subject to “wrap up” our study.  But going first would actually be better.


Take a trip to the mountains.  The beach.  The state capital.  The zoo.  Anywhere you can see something new.  Feel the sand between your toes.  Breathe in that mountain air.

Happy Parenting!

Preparing For First Time Schoolers

A Happy Beginning of a School Life

After you have accomplished an all-important job of choosing the right
preschool for your child, are you ready for the next tough job? That is, sending
your precious one away to school for the very first time!
Every year, we see a lot of parents feeling helpless in ‘settling’ their little ones
in the school in the first month. They start complaining about the tantrums
that they have to face every morning while they get the children ready for
school. The endless crying and sobbing breaks even the toughest of us. Many
of us do not put a lot of thought into this, but this transition can be planned in
such a way that the entire family does not go through the separation anxiety.
Here are some tips that you can use a few days before the first day of school.

1. Positive Talk: Generally, your young one has a tendency to listen and
believe everything that you do or say, so use this ‘magic trick’ wisely by
talking very positively about school and what he or she will be expecting
at school. Avoid any negative remarks about the school in front of the
2. Story telling and Videos: Use the story telling/video sessions by
mentioning a school setting and how the little ones enjoy during the
school hours. If possible, visit the school gate a few times to show them
the school and create that excitement in their little minds.
3. Role Play: Little children love roleplays, so the family members can play
“school” and use it to display the type of routines and activities expected
by them. For example, outdoor play area, “tiffin-time” fun with classmates,
sharing of books and toys etc.
4. Set up a Routine: A few days before the school starts, set up a routine
that a child will have to follow later. Setting up a wake-up time,
breakfast, bath time, etc. will help in reducing the stress on the first day
of school.
5. Positive Assurance- Assuring them that you are around waiting for them
to pick them up after the school and showing up on time to pick them up
after the class really helps the kids build trust and confidence in the first
few days of school. 
6. Relax: Last but not the least, you need to relax and have a lot of trust in
this process. Your anxiety and restlessness definitely passes on to the
children. So, have faith and let the child blossom at his/her own pace.

This new phase of your life will definitely become easier if you follow the
above tips with your children. Remember, each child is unique and will
settle in school at her own pace.  

Happy Parenting!