What is inquiry-based learning?

15 September, 2023

Edge Early Learning Milton
Some days it may feel like your child is always asking “why?” Their little mind is developing so fast and they’re so keen to learn! Here at Edge Early Learning, we tap into that natural curiosity through inquiry-based learning.


What is inquiry-based learning?

Inquiry-based learning is an approach to education that taps into children’s innate curiosity. Learning topics are developed around the children’s interests. It supports them to explore an idea and learn to think for themselves. Rather than the traditional approach of presenting children with information to rote learn, inquiry-based learning sees educators presenting a scenario, question or problem for children to investigate. It’s about sparking their curiosity and encouraging questions.

Children are supported to ask questions and find out the answers themselves. They can work individually, in small groups, or as a class to look at books, analyse pictures or conduct their own experiments. They’re encouraged to share their findings with their peers and reflect on and discuss what they’ve discovered and what they might do differently next time.


Examples of inquiry-based learning

In an early childhood setting, examples of inquiry-based learning could be simply posing questions such as: “what would happen if we mixed blue paint with red paint?” or “how many blocks could we stack before the tower falls over?” or “what does a seed need to grow into a flower?”. Let’s take the paint example. Children could hypothesise what colour will result, then experiment by mixing the two colours together. They could explore the different hues that result from combining equal parts of red and blue paint or more of one colour. This could then spark their interest in what happens if white or black is added. Or if two other colours were mixed together.


What are the benefits of inquiry-based learning?

Experts agree there are many benefits to an inquiry-based approach to learning. It:

  • develops attention span and reasoning skills;
  • creates a secure environment for children to discuss ideas;
  • builds initiative and self-guided learning;
  • promotes deeper understanding, and;
  • encourages exploration of ideas.


Inquiry-based learning strategies

Educators use different kinds of inquiry-based learning strategies, including:

  • Confirmation inquiry– Children are given the question, the answer and the method to confirm the answer.
  • Structured inquiry– Children are given a question and a way to investigate it.
  • Guided enquiry – Children are given a question and (often in groups) design their own investigation to reach a conclusion.
  • Open inquiry – Children pose their own questions, choose how they investigate them and then share their findings.


Edge Early Leaning’s approach to inquiry-based learning

Our educators at Edge Early Learning use inquiry-based learning strategies every day. We nurture children’s natural curiosity and support them to work with their peers to investigate their ideas and learn more about the world around them.

Learn more about our approach to learning! 

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