In her thesis, Susanne Thulin examines the way in which teachers and children communicate around science questions in early childhood education. Her study includes video observations of children and teachers at preschools working with a scientific subject within two themed areas, “Life in the tree stump”, and “How soil is formed”.
Her results indicate that children risk missing the scientific content. Children’s questions are often met with questions from the teachers. It is quite rare for the children to get answers or learn from the teacher’s knowledge and experience within the field in question. It is also the teacher who introduces the use of language, for example the anthropomorphic language in which animals are humanised.
Enhanced knowledge role
The role of preschools has changed. The first preschool curriculum appeared in 1998, giving preschools a more prominent role in the education system. The enhanced knowledge role of preschools has been further emphasised in the revised curriculum, which comes into effect on 1 July 2011. In the science subjects, specific content such as chemistry, physical phenomena and technology are now to be dealt with in the early childhood education environment, in addition to biology, ecology and the environment.
“But if we are to encourage children’s appetite for learning then teachers need to have the ability to create links between children’s everyday experiences, their everyday language on the one hand and scientific language and a scientific approach on the other. The content must stand out and be visible to the child. This means that the children ask questions, investigate to find out the answers and have the chance to discuss the results. This requires an inclination, courage and skill on the part of preschool teachers,” says Susanne Thulin.
The thesis has been developed within the framework of the National Research School of Childhood, Learning and Didactics (RSCLD).
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