At the end of this chapter you will:
Recognise the potential for science with 3 and 4-year-old children.
Recognise the place of everyday science in free and guided play for 3 and 4-year-old children.
Describe various pedagogical principles to enhance the science teaching and learning of 3 and 4-year-old children through free and guided play.
Relate children’s science experiences to the fi ve outcomes of the EYLF.
Within Australia there have been progressive moves for young children to be placed in school contexts, resulting in some 3 and 4-year-old children being placed in ‘formal’ education. As a result, early childhood educators are being challenged as to why, what and how they should teach science. Through two case studies, this chapter explores pedagogical practices associated with the teaching and learning of science in young children, using play as a medium, and relates the findings to the five outcomes of the EYLF (DEEWR, 2009).
Young children's learning and the potential for science understanding
Young children are naturally inquisitive. They are active and social learners with an innate curiosity and wonder of the world, which makes them ideal scientists. Children have questions to ask, problems to solve, conversations to share, and social and playful situations to use in their learning (Greenman, 2007). They also have developing concentration and attention spans, an egocentric nature, an awareness of taking turns, an interest in exploring relationships and a vocabulary that is expanding while they are continuing to develop fine and gross motor skills (Kearns & Austin, 2010).