At Meadowbrook Elementary School, the Reggio Influenced approach has several guiding principles.
The Image of the Child
Children are viewed as powerful, capable and resourceful.
Because we are a B.C. public school, we are guided by the B.C. Ministry of Education curriculum. The delivery of this builds from the natural curiosities of children. Sometimes it will emerge from the children’s interests or may also be sparked by the teacher strategically putting out a provocation to see how the children respond or by posing inquiry-based questions that deepen learning and understanding. Teachers may also create a curiosity by reading rich literature, taking advantage of real life experiences outside and within the community, and by deeply listening and responding to the thoughts and ideas of children. Teachers also support the ongoing development of projects which are by nature cross-curricular and thereby support the intellectual, emotional/social, physical, artistic and aesthetic development of children. They also observe students carefully and act responsively to develop engaging and rich learning experiences that are relevant to the children.
In-depth studies that develop out of children’s ideas, questions, and interests are part of the Reggio Influenced classroom. Projects may last for short or extended periods of time and may involve individuals, small groups or the whole class. With teacher support children choose what materials to use to support their explorations and how to research, share and re-represent their learnings. Projects involve collaboration which supports the development of cognitive, communication and social skills. Students are also encouraged to negotiate, discuss, critique, compare and problem solve during project work, all important aspects of the child’s ability to self-regulate behaviour.
The arts play a key role in Reggio Influenced practice and are integrated into daily activities to maximize children’s development. Children will regularly spend time in the art centre or atelier and frequently participate in dance, drama, music, movement instruction and play; all part of the hundred languages of children.
This is consistent with Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences. Howard Gardner has done collaborative research with teachers from Reggio Emilia and preschool through secondary school teachers and teacher educators in Massachusetts for over 10 years on the Making Learning Visible (MLV) project through Project Zero. The research findings draw attention to the power of the group as a learning environment and documentation as a way to see and shape how and what children are learning. MLV addresses three aspects of learning and teaching:
- What teachers and students can do to support the creation of learning groups in the classroom.
- How observation and documentation can shape, extend, and make visible children's and adults' individual and group learning.
- How teachers, students, and others are creators as well as transmitters of culture and knowledge.
The Role of the Environment
The environment is seen as the third teacher (children and teachers being the first two). Careful consideration is given to the look and feel of the classroom environment. Classrooms are organized for small, medium and large group project work and with neutral colours, natural materials and calming lighting. Areas are also designated for dramatic play, gross motor activity and free exploration. The outdoor environment is explored in every season with follow up activities in the classroom.
Children's learning become visible through regular documentation. Teachers photograph children in action and they record their words to describe their learning experience. This documentation is revisted by students, parents and teachers to assess learning and guide practice. On a regular basis teachers scribe children’s conversations around learning and wonderings, take photographs, videos, and audio recordings of children in action and the words they use to describe their learning experiences. These are used to communicate with parents about their child’s learning on an ongoing basis and to support teacher planning that is responsive to the needs and interests of the children. As children develop metacognitive skills they will also be able to document and share their learning experiences with others. Parents should always feel fully informed about their child’s development in a Reggio Influenced school.
Parent Involvement and Sense of Community
Parent input is invited to support student engagement and learning, and parents are invited to share their expertise and passion with the school community. Educators work together with children and families, and community partners/members to create a strong identity and interconnectedness that supports all learners. Parents are respected by teachers and seen as true partners in education. Their input and response to their child’s learning is encouraged, for example, as part of the documentation process. Teachers should have frequent contact with parents regarding their child’s learning and development.
Our Natural Environment
The world outside our doors is a key element of the Reggio Influenced program. Students are outdoors on a daily basis, rain or shine, to explore and learn from the richness of our natural environment.
Social Emotional Learning
The best learning emerges in the context of supportive relationships that make learning challenging, engaging and meaningful. We teach skills to help students monitor and manage their own emotions and to become aware of others' emotions.