The importance of long term projects.
Children are like hurricanes, whizzing from one activity to the next. But every now and then they get deeply involved in one activity and in their concentration, their learning takes on a life of it’s own.
As childcare practitioners, we all know the importance of observation, and the magic that can happen when we sit back and observe a child getting really involved in their activity. You can often see the child’s thought processes, and marvel at what they are learning and discovering.
But even with the best intentions, the constraints we have on our day, and our pre-determined plans can often interrupt a child at play. When we ask the children to tidy up before lunch, to stop what they are doing and wash their hands before they eat, we could be interrupting an important learning process.
Many of a child’s activities are only short term, and this is fine; when it is the child’s choice, but often the end of the activity is determined by an adult and learning opportunities are cut short.
So what can be done to combat this?
Interruptions are often inevitable, but it’s possible to create some long term projects, which can be left and returned to many times in a bid to encourage these meaningful learning experiences.
Large art projects are a great creative outlet for children. How about starting a really big art project for everyone to take part in? When the children lose interest in their activity, pin it up on the wall and get it down again when the children ask for it. Not everyone has the space for a larger than life art project, but you could take your creativity outdoors. Use chalks on the floor, maybe even paint the walls or a fence. Whenever a child shows any curiosity towards the project let them get the paints out and have another go. You’re likely to find that certain children keep coming back and others may lose interest.
Construction is another brilliant project for children to participate in. Use whatever you have available at your setting and ask the children to build a robot, or a car, or let their imaginations run wild. Once built. Leave their masterpiece in the room for a week or so, with a selection of left over materials. Your children can keep coming back to their creation and adding to it and see how it changes each day.
Gardening is a great long term project. Get your children involved in every aspect of gardening, from weeding to planting seeds, watering plants and picking fruit or flowers. Allow children to choose when they want to do this activity and let them explore themselves. They will be able to discover, for themselves, the amazing changes that their little garden plot goes through over time.
Providing children with the opportunity to revisit their ideas and return to an existing project can lead to really meaningful learning and development. It encourages them to think about things for a longer period of time, and also shows them that these thoughts are respected.
iConnect allows practitioners to plan activities, based on next steps, for the children in their care. Why not use iConnect to plan your next long term project, and capture observations of learning over time?