Next year, Curro Rosen Castle will become the first nursery in South Africa to adopt the Curiosity Approach – a pupil-driven teaching method.
The Curiosity Approach was developed in Birmingham, England in 2016 by teachers Lyndsey Hellyn and Stephanie Bennett and it is based on teaching pre-school children using things found around the home.
Alida Coetzee, a teacher at Curro Rosen Castle, said: “Children are naturally curious beings, as you can see when they are at home when they go around picking up random items and actually playing them. The Curiosity Approach brings the home environment into the school.
Instead of bright colour charts filling the room we will have objects like cardboard boxes, plastic containers or even shoes which their parents will donate. I believe that this will also teach the child some sort of responsibility because if they play with a toy and it breaks then we go out and just get a new one but if it is a household object they will treat it differently.”
According to Ms Coetzee, the benefit of this approach is that the children will feel more comfortable in the classroom and will be able to express themselves more freely.
“I hope next year we will have great success and soon schools all over will also be using this technique.”
The Curiosity Approach advocates the learning benefits of play over a more structured programme.
“Each child is different in their own way and while you might get a group of children playing together, there will be those who break away from the group and go and learn by themselves, much like they would do at home. So in order to take advantage of this, the teachers will need to get down on their knees and get down to the child’s level and really pay attention to their needs.
Of course, next year will be the first time we will take this approach so we will keep our classes between 20 to 23 children.”
Ms Coetzee added that this technique would also be difficult in larger classrooms, however, she believes that over time a technique can be worked out to suit larger numbers.
Nursery school specialist Sally Langerman believes the approach will redefine creativity while it can also improve other skills such as language and analytical thinking.
“You might see a little girl painting a picture on a paper and then she will go outside and collect leaves or sticks. You might think that she’s just gathering random things but if you take note then you might see that she has created another picture and she can explain the story behind it. This helps to develop language skills while during the construction of the artwork math skills were also developed.
All this is done through play – you can tick all the learning areas off, and all this is, is simply a child having fun.”