Inspirations from Reggio Emilia at Early Learners
24th August 2017
At Guardian, our early learning philosophy is deeply inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach which views children as capable and resilient, with the capacity for complex thinking. The Reggio Emilia approach places importance on these distinct characteristics:
- Family participation
- Role of the educators
- Environment as the third teacher
- A presence of the atelier
- In-school kitchen
We focus on meaningful play and on projects that develop children’s sense of identity and agency, and our Altona North early learning centre, Early Learners, have been doing just that. Over recent months they have been busy engaging in some fantastic learning experiences which were inspired by the Reggio Emilia philosophy.
The Reggio Emilia approach explores the concept of ‘relaunching’ a hypothesis or idea to reignite the children’s interest and expand their thinking using open ended questions or “I wonder…” statements, as well as adding different mediums and resources. This helps the initial idea to become a long-term project.
Educator at Early Learners
Explorations in the Emu Room
The children in the Emu Room have been exploring and discovering how to make a puppet theatre. Working alongside the educators, children have been thinking about and representing their ideas about the structure, materials and design of a puppet theatre for the room. Through this experience, children have also been provided with the opportunity to develop and enhance their oral language. We are looking forward to seeing the final product!
Nature Experiences for the Koalas
The changing of the seasons have provided the children in the Koala Room with many opportunities for learning. During the autumn months, the children got out into nature and investigated the coloured leaves that were clutching to the trees and had fallen to the ground. They collected leaves of various colours and explored colour matching using the leaves and coloured pebbles. They also took some leaves inside and, with the centre’s lightboxes and projectors, the children worked with patterns and shadows. It was a great way to bring nature concepts into the centre and to work directly with resources from the world around them.
Light and Shadow with the Wallabies
Over recent months, the children from Wallabies have been exploring light and shadow. Our educators put a lot of thought and planning into the set up of experiences and, in this case, started this exploration by setting up paddles in their backyard to give children the opportunity to interact with the lights and shadows created by these paddles.
To extend on children’s learning about light and how shadows are cast, educators then set up an LED panel in the Koala and Wallaby room. A couple of the children were fascinated to see their shadows on the white board and soon started to add rainbow blocks on the illuminator and began to observe the reflections on the board. And, to push this even further, educator Vesna came up with the idea of using cellophane paper to do pasting activity and get children to match the shapes on the LED panels. From using trial and error to match shapes to already recognising patterns and connections, children were able to learn and explore regardless of their developmental stage.
Collaborative Relationships in the Possum Room
The Possum Room prides itself in its collaborative relationships with parents and families to enhance the learning of the younger children. Meal times can enhance the bond between siblings and strengthen their confidence to relate to others. One such example was when one of the children was visited by her big brother from the Emu Room who happily engaged with his little sister and her friends at the supper table.
In this interaction, the older child helped his little sister out with her spoon and then demonstrated how to hold the cup to have a drink. The little ones enthusiastically followed the example and showed their pleasure at having him share his time with them. He then helped to feed one of the toddlers in the way he saw educators do when he was a baby Possum and supervised his younger sister as she tackled the self-help theory.
Older brothers and sisters as well as extended family can be very influential teachers when they visit in the Possum room as they have already developed the trust that adheres to the little one’s enthusiasm to learn.
Educator, Possum Room
Art and Nature in the Cockatoo Room
The philosophy of the Reggio Emilia approach is also a part of the Cockatoo Room at Early Learners. Heading outside into nature, the Cockatoo Room children have been using the natural environment as an inspiration for creativity. By doing this, children become more connected to nature and have the true experience of drawing from nature, rather than just photos of natural objects. They can touch and smell the object and get a real sense of it, which is a richer, more rewarding experience for the child.
Utilising natural materials in their experiences as much as possible, educators and children collected a selection of rocks and pebbles from the garden and used an old coffee sack procured from a local café to explore numeracy.
They’ve also used old game pieces and boards to create their own games. By investigating colour and patterns, children have been exploring complex concepts which can be seen in the mirror image these children have created (below).
Learn more about Early Learners in Altona North
To see this fantastic Melbourne early learning centre for yourself, head here and book in for a tour via our handy online form.
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