Early Childhood Connections
Kohl Children’s Museum of Greater Chicago has provided training on the Project Approach to over 500 early childhood teachers and childcare professionals working in under-resourced communities in the Chicagoland area since 2000.
Early Childhood Connections is grounded in the Museum’s belief that children learn best when they are engaged, motivated, intrinsically curious and most of all, having fun. Utilizing the Project Approach, children are encouraged to formulate questions, seek out and discover answers, consider their findings and form conclusions. In this environment, teachers are empowered to become the facilitators of learning rather than distributors of knowledge. It also inspires all children to explore and learn in their own way while fostering the development of critical thinking, cooperation, and communication skills.
>> Download the Early Childhood Connections School Fact Sheet
>> Download the Early Childhood Connections Childcare Fact Sheet
Early Childhood Connections is designed to achieve the following goals:
• To increase the use of the Project Approach and developmentally appropriate practices in classrooms and childcare settings serving children at risk of academic failure ages 3-8;
• To increase the positive attitudes of teachers and childcare providers toward Project Approach learning;
• To provide parents with opportunities to play an active role in their children’s education.
The Early Childhood Connections Program provides several critical components:
- professional development for teachers and childcare providers conducted by trainers certified by Dr. Judy Harris Helm, world-renowned expert in the Project Approach
- focused field trips to the Museum
- resources and support in the Project Approach
- parent/child in-school activities
- family celebrations
- family passes for future Museum visits
The training component consists of three full professional development workshop days conducted in the fall, winter and spring of each school year. Each participating teacher conducts one or more projects in their classrooms and childcare settings during the year of training and has opportunities to share their successes and challenges with their peers.
Throughout the past eight years, the Museum has been assessing the program using both quantitative and qualitative methods. Through collaboration with Dr. Jan Perney from National-Louis University, we have concluded that through the rigorous standard of a pre- and post-test control group design, and controlling for initial differences between the intervention and control groups, there is evidence that the Early Childhood Connections Program is producing statistically significant and practically meaningful positive changes in teacher and childcare providers’ attitudes toward the project approach and an increase in the use of developmentally appropriate methods and strategies by early childhood educators.
Early Childhood Connections was generously funded by the following organizations: Anonymous, Bowman Lingle Foundation, Dr. Scholl Foundation, Gorter Family Foundation, ITW, The Lake County Community Foundation and Polk Bros. Foundation.
>> Projects of Chicagoland: Successful Implementation of the Project Approach From Early Childhood Connections Participants
It is our hope that more than 75 sample projects in this book will motivate early childhood professionals to begin to implement this approach into the everyday lives of their classrooms, centers or homes. (.pdf file, 9.4 MB)