Creating a science-rich environment for young children
Children need to apply and communicate ideas, make decisions based on evidence, and collaborate with others to solve problems, activities that require a deep and interconnected understanding of the fundamental ideas underlying a problem. Therefore, in Estonia, science, or, more specifically, the environment surrounding a child, is placed at the centre of a curriculum for preschool institutions. This kind of learning can occur only in a science-rich environment. In this chapter, the environment of a total of 318 Estonian children were explored.
The research indicates that there are signs of expected changes from nature-object-centred teaching to more process oriented teaching. The connection with the lives of the children and the inclusion of explanatory activities indicates the teachers’ ability to follow a child’s need for play and curiosity. Teachers also not only equip the environment properly, they give science rich meaning to surroundings. The kindergarten teachers’ ability to react to the children’s interest and follow the principles of science education helps create a solid foundation for science learning in future stages of education.