ABC Creativity Center’s philosophy and goals for children are Reggio
Emilia-inspired and play based learning.
REGGIO EMILIA APPROACH
Loris Malaguzzi founded and directed successful preschools in Reggio Emilia, Italy. His influence and philosophy is that children are competent and capable learners in the context of group work, who are able to construct their own learning. Some key Reggio Emilia elements are highlighted below:
Emergent curriculum: Emergent curriculum requires that teachers seek out the interests of the children. Topics/themes for learning are found through inquiring and listening closely with children and watching them play, thus, knowing their interests.
Environment: Classroom environment is considered the “third teacher” (parents are the 1st & teachers are 2nd). Environments should be flexible, open, allow for mobility, and not be limited; they should provide tools to encourage creativity and areas children can generate their own ideas. Common spaces for group and peer communication are important.
Documentation: Document child’s learning to show growth, communicate with parents, better understand child’s thinking, or determine if concepts need to be readdressed. Documentation can be in the form of photographs, saving/posting work, art/media representations, or transcriptions of children’s words.
Projects: A project is an in-depth study on a particular topic, where the idea and interest emerged from the children. Teachers help guide the direction of study.
Collaboration: The teacher is considered a co-learner and collaborator with the child rather than an instructor, and when appropriate, actively engaging in the activities alongside the child. Children are encouraged to discuss, hypothesize, and problem solve through group work, allowing them to see multiple perspectives.
PLAY IS IMPORTANT
Preschoolers are only 2-5 years old once. Play time is an authentic and natural development socially, emotionally, cognitively, and physically. Play time is intrinsic to children, motivating their curiosities to ask more questions, discover how things work, solve problems, work collaboratively with others, be creative, and build confidence.
When play is uninterrupted by adult restrictions (as much as possible), children are able to be decision makers. The observing adults are able to learn about the children’s interests, how they handle problems, how they work with others, and “see” how they think. These observations allow teachers to better plan lessons that engage students and better guide each child when mentoring them because teachers know how the children “work.”