A marble rolls down a ramp, and children cheer as it reaches the target they have adjusted numerous times. After a small-group reading of “Fill a Bucket” by Carol McCloud and Katherine Martin, children gather in a community of inquiry to discuss the nature of filling each other’s buckets by being selfless and helpful to others. In an adjacent area, two children complete their construction of Lego ships and cargo holds for the ships. They begin classifying gems into different compartments, sorting them by size and colour. A child grows and preserves flowers using the concepts of photosynthesis by our window ledge. These are some of the activities that are continuously occurring in a project- and play-based environment of our room,where children are exploring the concepts of living and non-living things. These and other early learning experiences that support inquiry and creativity have significant long-term benefits. Thinking is an art form, similar to the actions of a visual artist perfecting his or her craft. We must focus on creative learning dispositions early, during the brain’s most active period of synaptic growth.
There are numerous strategies that can be implemented throughout a child’s developmental journey, to support children’s long-term success with rigorous learning standards. The strategies range in complexity and cultural commitment. Therefore, I recommend starting small and building a culture of student-centered learning and flexibility, prior to full-scale implementation.