How To Develop Child-Centered Environment In Preschools?

The process of educating children has evolved. Today, it’s no longer about what a teacher or a parent wants their kids to know but solely about what the child finds interest in knowing. This approach teaching, where the learning program is constructed or developed around the child’s interests and inclination, is known as child centered learning. The following article describes four ways to develop a child-centered learning environment in preschools. Read on to know. 

Remember how we were taught, when we were in nursery? Typically bright colored classrooms with flowers, birds and fishes pained on the walls and each of the tables having a colorful glazed book of alphabets and numbers with related imagery.

But that was then; we were given what needed be learnt, closely followed up with related tests and activities to measure how much was retained. Today, through the evolution of preschool education in India, the emphasis has now moved on to finding what a child wants to learn and then developing a learning program around it. It’s called child-centered learning.

What is Child-centered Learning?

I like the way Linda Morgan, an eminent blogger and educationist, puts it forth –

It’s a technique — and a philosophy of education — that promises to focus on the student, not the teacher. Child-centered learning highlights collaboration: Instructors, child care providers and parents take their cues from the kids, drawing upon their interests, needs and natural curiosities.

Having said that our future rests in the hands of our children, it’s our duty to help them develop themselves into confident, well informed individuals who are capable of making respectable decisions tomorrow. And this can only be possible if we allow them to learn what they are interested in learning rather than imposing our interests in them and burdening them from their early growth years itself.

How can Child-centered Environment be Developed?        

Preschools play a very significant role in honing the behavior and interests of a child. Therefore they should definitely incorporate the institution of child-centered learning. Here are four ways to create a child-centered environment in a preschool.

  • Teachers should give up absolute control – To ensure a child-centered learning environment, the first thing you need to stop doing is trying to take control of children. You need to stop telling them what to do and let them tell you what you need to talk about. You should take cues from them on what interests them and engage them into a conversational learning methodology. 
  • Keep your questions open ended – It isn’t necessary that your child may think the same way as you do. Instead of asking “do you know what this is” rephrase your question to “what do you think this could be”. It will help bring out the exploratory side which is what will assist in learning. 
  • Lean to honor your child’s interest – Forcing children to learn something only leads to them shutting down after a while. This is not what you want of course. Hence, take cues from children to understand were their interest lies and then throw in props and toys to connect to concepts. For instance, if children are talking about speed, use toys to help them understand concepts related to speed such as distance, time, etc. 
  • Attribute more importance to knowledge rather than compliance – Your aim is to impart knowledge, not exercise your disciplinary powers. While discipline is important, nothing that’s taught at the gunpoint (cane point in this case) is learnt actually. To exercise child-centered learning, you need to let them feel like they are capable of learning and sharing their ideas, which will then unplug their exploratory sides.

There is a world of difference you’ll see when you’ll compare a child from the old school of learning and one from the child-centered school of learning. And, it will go a long way in shaping the future of our country with better honed and responsible citizens.

What are your thoughts on child-centered approach in preschool education? Share them with me in the comments below; I’d love to hear from you.