Proceedings of The 4th World Conference on Research in Education
Elements and pedagogical value of the project approach in kindergarten
Prof. Edita Slunjski. Ph.D.
The integrated nature of teaching children is one of the most important features of the modern preschool curriculum, which is most pronounced in the planning of project activities and the educational process of the kindergarten. A project is a set of activities in which one or more children study a topic that interests them, in collaboration with other children and the indirect support of the preschool teacher. To provide this form of support, the preschool teacher must be equipped with certain skills. First of all, he/she must have a good understanding of the children and the meaning of their activities. In order to succeed in this, the preschool teacher must use different forms of children’s symbolic expression, i.e., their symbolic languages, and understand the foreknowledge and developmental potential of each child individually. Then, they should be provided with a stimulating material environment that allows them to initiate and self-organize activities. Indirect support for learning also involves asking stimulating questions through which the preschool teacher encourages children to research, question, and discuss problems they might encounter because the ultimate goal of a project approach is to encourage children to think and solve problems rather than memorize facts. The value of a project can also be measured through the opportunities for children to participate in deciding on joint activities and the ways in which they will be included. The meaning of quality activities during the project is also to empower children to engage in democratic dialogue through active participation in shaping project development. Quality preschool teacher support also means respecting the diversity of each child and avoiding the unification of activities as well as unified standards in assessing children’s achievement. In this paper, we present some of the projects that were carried out with preschool children in one Croatian kindergarten and highlight its specific elements and pedagogical value.
keywords: project approach, integrated teaching, self-organized activities of children, roles of the preschool teacher.