The Benefits of Inquiry-Based Education

children raising painted hands for inquiry based learning

As your preschooler is exposed to learning, it’s likely that his or her inquisitive nature will reveal itself. At Tessa International School in Hoboken New Jersey, we encourage our students to take charge of their learning with an inquiry-based learning approach based on the International Baccalaureate framework.

What is Inquiry-Based Learning?

While many preschool teachers begin the process of learning by presenting students with information, with inquiry-based learning, teachers first ask the students what they would like to learn and go from there. This innovative method of teaching helps the students to gain a better understanding through their own initiative and curiosity.

Inquiry-based learning encourages students to engage in the process of gathering data and to seek answers to their questions. Rather than being handed information, students are taught to ask questions, gather information, interpret data, and produce practical solutions. It teaches students to take action. Students are also taught to develop insightful questions and understand context.

As a result, your preschooler learns the fundamentals of problem solving, a mission Tessa International School is committed to in the classroom.

Benefits of Inquiry-Based Learning

  1. Students exposed to inquiry-based learning are given the opportunity to nurture their talents and passions. They take control of their learning during the unit of work being taught. Your preschooler is given the freedom to be driven by their own curiosity for learning.
  2. Inquiry-based learning encourages your preschooler to use their voice when problem solving.They feel as if their mind is respected and their choices are valid. When students become active in the learning process, they are also more likely to seek solutions and keep an open mind when learning about processes involved in discovery. They feel empowered.
  3. Inquiry-based learning promotes the act of questioning concepts and materials, so your child begins to understand the importance of having an inquisitive mind. As a result, she gains confidence when encouraged to ask about concepts related to educational materials, social skills, cultural differences and behavioral expectations. This openness to learn helps to guide them through life with an open mind.
  4. While many classroom curriculum programs focus on memorization and facts, inquiry-based learning teaches your child to seek a deeper understanding of the process and materials presented to them.
  5. Even as preschoolers, it’s important for students to take ownership of their learning. Inquiry-based learning approaches promote this practice. Students are involved in setting educational goals and are guided through the process of reaching these goals and then assessing how they did and what they learned at the end of it all.
  6. This learning style impacts your little one long into their adult life because inquiry-based learning shows your child how to investigate and research independently, without assistance. With enhanced research skills, your child will have the skillset to evaluate credible sources and online content later in life.
  7. As we learn and grow, life presents many challenges and questions. When exposed to inquiry-based learning techniques, your child learns how to take control of her learning through perseverance. With a clear focus on the growth of each student’s mind through self-regulation, this learning approach aids in developing your child’s sense of responsibility, not only as a student, but also a citizen.
  8. Most importantly, inquiry-based learning is designed to foster a love of learning for children of all ages. Your child is encouraged to seek out the knowledge he or she is passionate about on a daily basis. Students also learn how to make each learning opportunity a journey of discovery, with a little fun along the way.

If you’re interested in learning more about the creative curriculum approaches of Tessa International School, contact us today to see how we are committed to this progressive framework and to excellence.

What is immersion education?

7Immersion education is a system in which all academic subjects are taught in a target language such as French, Spanish, or Mandarin. It’s best if it’s started when children are young as they are more able to pick up subtle nuances of language. The classrooms are efficient learning environments where classroom procedures and transitions move quickly.

Teachers are fluent and native speakers of the target language and they are committed to speaking the target language consistently. This means they speak the target language during instruction, transitions, outside play, and eating times. Teachers are highly attentive to students’ needs and their individual learning styles.

The classroom is a literacy rich environment with pictures, labels, and other meaningful visuals to help support the target language throughout the day. Teachers are skilled at aiding comprehension through non-verbal clues and strategic teaching strategies.

The day is organized and routines are consistent and key phrases and vocabulary are repeated often to help children gain a foothold on their vocabulary development. Children make connections across the curriculum as the target language and English curriculum are aligned which allows them to reinforce concepts and ideas in both languages.

Will your child lose their English?

Studies have shown that children in immersion settings perform the same if not better than children who are not.

What if you don’t speak the target language at home?

You do not need to speak the target language for your child to succeed and gain proficiency. Homework is designed in a fun and engaging way through songs and games to review classroom learning. Strong communication with your child’s teacher is a key component to success.

For more detailed information please contact Michelle at

It’s all in the way we learn…Total Physical Response (TPR)


Total Physical Response (TPR) – An action oriented method to increase comprehension

An American professor by the name of James Asher developed an approach to language teaching commonly referred to as Total Physical Response (TPR). This work began in the 1960’s and theorizes that memory is improved through an association with physical movements.

There are many activities that can occur when using the TPR approach which helps children develop language using movements. These activities support the classroom curriculum and are not only motivating, but a lot of fun.

We don’t often think of Total Physical Response (TPR), but many games and activities have TPR fundamentals built in, both directly and indirectly. A good example is with “Simon Says” or “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes”. Here is an example of TPR in a using Mandarin:


Total Physical Response (TPR) increases both short and long-term retention. When we learn to ride a bicycle we always remember how, no matter how many years might have passed. It might take a bit of a review, but the skills and knowledge are still there.

Total Physical Response (TPR) has many benefits. These include helping learners understand target languages and aid in long-term retention in a stress-free approach. This method can be uses to teach vocabulary connected to actions, classroom directions, and storytelling.  Teachers thoughtfully plan lessons with TPR in mind to promote engagement and develop listening fluency. Once there is enough listening fluency learners begin to speak the target language. Here is an example of TPR in the classroom.

You can read more at Total Physical Response (TPR).

Focusing on individual learning needs improves learning outcomes


What is individual learning?
Individualized learning is closely related to differentiated instruction. While differentiated instruction focuses on flexible grouping of children, individualized instruction focuses more on the needs of individual children. Good classrooms balanced both differentiated methods and individualized learning to create an engaging and stimulating learning environment.

Why is individualized instruction important?
Meeting the varied needs of children can be a daunting task for educators. It most definitely takes more planning and assessment of student progress, but the benefits far outweigh the cons. Individualized instruction prepares children to become active and effective learners developing the skills needed to be life-long learners in an ever evolving world. With the varied aptitude levels of children, individualized instruction helps use the differences of children to increase moral, retain information, and enhance children’s engagements in their learning.

How do we begin?
There are essentially five important steps to creating a successful individualized learning classroom. These are:
1. Setting specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely goals
2. Goals should be challenging
3. Goals are dynamic and reviewed regularly
4. Students own their progress
5. Parents are involved

What are some methods to individualize learning?
Teachers plan carefully and collaboratively to ensure they are using meaningful data to gain insights on how individual children are progressing toward a goal. We shift away from lengthy whole-group lessons to more play-based centers and inquiry-based projects. The centers and projects complimented by strategic use of current technological resources allow teachers to design engaging lessons that tap into the natural curiosity of each child.

Teachers provide opportunities for children to approach their learning in a variety of ways which provides more opportunities to retain information which improves moral and excitement for learning.

What are the benefits of individual learning?
Individualized learning essentially allows students to learn at their own pace with teacher direction. They are still working towards rigorous and challenging learning outcomes, but they are provided a variety of ways to demonstrate their learning.

Tessa International School

Office: (201) 755-5585 | Location: 720 Monroe St. Hoboken, NJ 07030