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O. Glikasa, L. Karule

Liepaja University (LATVIA)
Aims of the paper:
1) to establish the pupils’ and their parents’ knowledge of hazardous chemicals in their everyday life and attitude towards them, to find out the teachers’ opinions about the possibilities of the topic acquisition;
2) to create the desired content options for familiarising with chemical substances and developing life skills coming into contact with them;
3) to develop a methodology for implementation of the topic in elementary school learning process and extra-curricular activities.

Junior school children should be taught to explore the surrounding world. They should get acquainted with the substances that form the natural environment objects and everyday items, should learn to see the interconnections that cause different processes. This will allow the child to shape their attitude and plan their activities.

Concepts about natural objects and processes are formed in the course of learning biology, geography, physics and chemistry elements. Within the framework of this research the topic of chemistry is emphasized. The considered aspects are getting acquainted with chemical elements and substances in the natural environment, formation of ideas about the interconnectedness between the chemical element and the human organism, critical evaluation of the use of chemistry in the living environment.

The most essential in this process is acquisition of life skills. Life skills are the ability to adaptively and positively cope with the needs of daily life. (PVO, 1993) Life skills oriented education aim is not only to acquire knowledge, but also to be able to use it in real life situations. The child has to learn to make the most appropriate and healthy choices in the rapidly changing environment. Learning life skills at school makes it possible for the pupil to make their own decisions, take responsibility for their own choices, and solve the arising problems. Joining various children’s groups, the child is influenced by the prevailing atmosphere there, wants to fit in, to be like the leaders, use trendy things and school accessories. The chemical composition of objects that can affect health is of least consideration for them. Knowledge gained at school is not an end in itself – it should start being used as early as possible in life. Opportunities arise at every step by deciding how to treat the natural environment, what to eat, what things to buy.

Effective visualization, play elements, practical research classes and maximizing the convergence of learning with life's realities contribute to the positive result. In science classes simple experiments can be carried out to get acquainted with the properties of substances and predict their positive or negative health effects. Children should learn how to find the information they need from different sources to get acquainted with the composition of the substances used on the packaging by listening to teachers and specialists, by visiting production units and shopping centres, conducting cognitive activities in their neighbourhood.