Tag Archive | Reggio Emilia

Why Is It?

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As some of you may know, I drive through some pretty horrendous traffic each morning as I commute 21 miles one way, to get to school. And, I’m not the only one! Several staff members approach Hanna from both the north and south, traveling many miles each week to earn a living. Obviously, we make this drive (Did I mention the traffic?!) for many reasons beyond just earning a paycheck. I don’t know many early childhood centers I pass, to get here, yet I continue to make this drive despite frequent bumper-to-bumper traffic. Why? Because, once my feet touch our whimsical, jewel-embedded hopscotch and I pass through that funky, spring-loaded gate, my heart sings. I know that all of my beliefs regarding (Caution: buzzword!) “best practices” make up the framework for this school. Starting with a very strong and cohesive emphasis on social-emotional development, our children are happy, cooperative and collaborative. This makes it very easy to do the work I love doing, and that is following the practices inspired by the schools in Reggio Emilia, Italy.  Each day, the children and I work and play together while creating and making new discoveries. Because of this playful approach to learning, intelligence is being developed because teachers are asking questions and our curious children are testing things  out – trying this way and that, and coming up with conclusions.  

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So how does it work? How does a philosophy inspired by the schools of Reggio Emilia, Italy translate into my daily life here at Hanna?

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~ Inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach, it gets exciting when plans take an unanticipated turn! Whereas in a traditional school setting, the teacher makes all the plans: here at Hanna, the child is the protagonist. 

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Certainly, there are moments when the teacher is clearly in charge. Such as making decisions regarding children’s safety. But when designing curriculum, the greatest success means following the lead of a child.Such was the case when Dane found sticks in the Garden Classroom, and used them to make some shapes. Dane illustrated to us, the great potential of these sticks and how they could contribute to the 3 Day Afternoon Class study of lines. 

~Inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach, a small group of children gathered together to solve a problem. 

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We have a great group of scientists who visit the Science Lab daily. Although they are always very excited and enthusiastic about whatever materials are available, they are not always very careful or respectful while using the substances and tools. Instead of banning these boys from the area, I turned the “problem into a project.”  I have met with this group several times, and they have come up with a list of ways on how to handle  the tools so items don’t break and various substances (such as colored water) last longer than a few minutes.

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~Inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach, I challenged the “fort builders” to design their forts before building them.

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By drawing out the plans ahead of time, this “fort builder” used his drawing skills to think and plan. His fort turned out remarkably like his plans!

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~ Inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach, our study of monarchs continues to engage and evolve. 

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Unlike traditional schools where a minimum time is spent on a single topic before turning to a new one, a topic (for example, our study of  monarch butterflies) can turn into a project that can go on for months and months.  After their visit with us in the fall, I had no idea where our study of monarchs would lead us. Now, more than five months later, the children are using mosaics to recreate the beautiful forms of the monarch butterfly. So far the mosaics are made out of paper, but we will soon be creating a real mosaic using ceramic plates! 

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~Inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach, I coach even our youngest artists and scientists how to use tools, instruments and materials with care because children are so capable.

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Some members of the transition class have been creating some beautiful art with watercolors.while being instructed how to clean the brush before choosing a new color and tapping the brush on the jar of color before painting to minimize drips and splattering.  

~Inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach, I continue to rejoice in being surrounded by nature and especially LOVE the beautiful gifts given to me by children gathered on their walks. 

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 Although I have always had an appreciation for nature, I never really saw the wonderful advantage of using natural materials in a classroom (other than the obligatory “science table”) before becoming a student of Reggio Emilia. Not only have I become a fan of using beautiful acorns, seedpods, stones, etc for building, art, decor and even “cooking” in the mud kitchen, many of my young students acknowledge my love of natural items and share the enthusiasm. I often receive gifts from the children with a message, “I know you will like this!”  I have received MANY gifts from Claire. She often collects pine cones and seed pods from magnolias while taking walks and then brings the treasures to me. The most recent gift was an enormous piece from a palm tree. I really need to find out what this part is called. Claire calls it a boat. This piece got a lot of attention from the recent rain after the rainwater from the roof of the Art Cottage fell into it.  We floated little bits of this and that in the water. Right away, I saw this as a piece to be filled with soil. Then it came to me, this would be the perfect container for a fairy garden! Stay tuned! 

For me, teaching at Hanna is a dream. It is not always easy work. Often, the work is slow to develop because certain children who inspired the work in the first place, don’t make it up to the Garden Classroom. There are plenty of activities going on in the lower playground that are just as meaningful and engaging. If that happens, I leave it for another day or see who else might find it interesting. Other times, I can’t keep up! Children are engaged and wanting to share their ideas left and right! I have a pile of notes waiting to be transcribed and matched up with specific projects for documentation.

 

So come tomorrow morning, I will once again buckle myself into my Toyota and head up Interstate 5. And WHEN (not if) I find myself in bumper-to-bumper traffic I won’t be upset. I will be wondering what new adventures await me beyond that sparkly hopscotch.

 With Joy! 

Francie 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As some of you may know, I drive through some pretty horrendous traffic each morning as I commute 21 miles one way, to get to school. And, I’m not the only one! Several staff members approach Hanna from both the north and south, traveling many miles each week to earn a living. Obviously, we make this drive (Did I mention the traffic?!) for many reasons beyond just earning a paycheck. I don’t know many early childhood centers I pass, to get here, yet I continue to make this drive despite frequent bumper-to-bumper traffic. Why? Because, once my feet touch our whimsical, jewel-embedded hopscotch and I pass through that funky, spring-loaded gate, my heart sings. I know that all of my beliefs regarding (Caution: buzzword!) “Best practices” make up the framework for this school. Starting with a very strong and cohesive emphasis on social-emotional development, our children are happy, cooperative and collaborative. Which makes it very easy to do the work I love doing, and that is following the practices inspired by the schools in Reggio Emilia, Italy.  Each day, the children and I work and play together while creating and making new discoveries. Because of this playful approach to learning, intelligence is being developed because teachers are asking questions and children are testing things out and coming up with conclusions. 

So how does it work? How does a philosophy inspired by the schools of Reggio Emilia, Italy translate into my daily life here at Hanna?

~ Inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach, it gets exciting when plans take an unanticipated turn! Sticks Dane child as protagonist

 

Certainly, there are moments when the teacher is clearly in charge. Such as making decisions regarding children’s safety. But when designing curriculum, the greatest success means following the lead of a child.

 

~Inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach, a small group of children gathered together to solve a problem. Science rules

 

~Inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach, I challenged the “fort builders” to design their forts before building them.

~ Inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach, our study of monarchs continues to engage and evolve. Mosaics

~ Inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach, I try very hard to be patient and WAIT for the children to initiate an activity.  Carrots

~Inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach, I coach even our youngest artists and scientists how to use tools, instruments and materials with care because children are so capable. Paul painting at Light Table

~Inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach, I continue to rejoice in being surrounded by nature and especially LOVE the beautiful gifts given to me by children gathered on their walks. Palm Parts.

 

For me, teaching at Hanna is a dream. It is not always easy work. Often, the work is slow to develop because certain children who inspired the work in the first place, don’t make it up to the Garden Classroom. There are plenty of activities going on in the lower playground that are just as meaningful and engaging. If that happens, I leave it for another day or see who else might find it interesting. Other times, I can’t keep up! Children are engaged and wanting to share their ideas left and right! I have a pile of notes waiting to be transcribed and matched up with specific projects for documentation.

 

So come tomorrow morning, I will once again buckle myself into my Toyota and head up Interstate 5. And WHEN (not if) I find myself in bumper-to-bumper traffic I won’t be upset. I will be wondering what new adventures await me beyond that sparkly hopscotch.

 

 

 

 

 

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