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 children's intellectual, emotional/social, physical, artistic and aesthetic development. 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.
“Children need the freedom to appreciate the infinite resources of their hands, their eyes and their ears, the resources of forms, materials, sounds and colour."
Loris Malaguzzi – founder of the Reggio Emilia Approach
The arts play a key role in Reggio Influenced practice and are integrated into daily activities to maximize children's development. Children will spend time in the atelier and participate in dance, drama, music, movement instruction and play -all part of the hundred languages of children
This practice is consistent with research from Making Learning Visible (MLV) through Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Howard Gardner et al.'s collaborative research with teachers from Reggio Emilia and Reggio- Influenced programs.. 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 children's and adults' individual and group learning visible.
- 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, 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.
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.
Children's learning becomes visible through regular documentation. Teachers photograph children in action and record their words to describe their learning experience. Students, parents and teachers revisit this documentation 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 can document and share their learning experiences with others. Parents should feel welcome to engage with staff regarding their child's development in a Reggio Influenced school.
Parent Involvement and Sense of Community
Parents are respected as true partners in education. Their input and response to their child's learning are encouraged, for example, as part of the documentation process. Parents are invited to share their expertise and passion with the school community. Educators work with children, families, and community partners/members to create a strong identity and interconnectedness that supports all learners. Teachers should frequently contact parents regarding their child's learning and development.
Social Emotional Learning
The best learning emerges in the context of supportive relationships that make learning challenging, engaging and meaningful. The Reggio vision is of an “education based on relationships". We focus on the individual child in relationship with family, other children, the environment, the community and society. We teach skills to help students monitor and manage their own emotions and to become aware of others' emotions. At Meadowbrook, we use our 'Concentric Rings of Care' to support and strengthen care. The Concentric Rings of Care is based on the work of Dr. Nel Noddings and the Care Theory. Our Concentric Rings of Care start in the centre – with Care for Self. As we move outward from the centre, we focus on Care for Family and Friends, Care for Strangers and Distant Others, Care for Animals, Plants and The Earth, Care for The Human-Made World, and finally Care for Ideas.