Science is everywhere, and learning about science may occur not only in formal school settings, but also in home and community contexts. Memories of some of the informal learning that occurred in years gone by, even when we were very young, can remain with us throughout our lives.
This chapter aims to highlight the importance of learning science outside formal spaces such as early childhood centres and schools. Families have substantial funds of knowledge that they can share with children through their everyday practices, such as cooking, gardening and tinkering in back sheds. These practices will draw on cultural knowledge from across generations and need to be taken account of respectfully by educators.
At the end of this chapter, you will be able to:
■ identify and acknowledge the significance of ways in which informal science processes and concepts are being developed within the everyday practices of families
■ acknowledge the importance of science pedagogical content knowledge
■ attempt to make conscious connections between the everyday concepts that children develop in informal settings, and scientific or academic concepts that are introduced in school or early childhood institutional settings
■ draw on Belonging, Being and Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia (DEEWR, 2009) and aspects of the Australian Curriculum: Science (ACARA, 2017) to inform your teaching of science.
The importance of early childhood recollections for science learning
Were there special people in your life, perhaps grandparents, aunts or elders, who taught you how to grow and harvest vegetables or herbs, or to cook cupcakes, told you traditional stories about the Sun, taught you to respect country, showed you how to knit, or how to fix a wobbly wheel on a cart?
From birth children are connected to family, community, culture and place. Their earliest development and learning takes place through these relationships, particularly within families, who are children's first and most influential educators (DEEWR, 2009, p. 7).
When I think back to my childhood, I can remember so many wonderful experiences – especially building cubby houses. Sometimes this was done inside, with chairs and sheets and blankets, and at other times outside with pieces of wood, large pieces of material and strong cardboard (often discarded cardboard boxes which had originally contained some new household item).