Reggio-Inspired Learning at Julia Goldstein
The Reggio Emilia Approach to Learning at Julia Goldstein
Our source of inspiration for this learning is the Reggio Emilia approach. Embedded in the Reggio Emilia approach to education is an image of children, families and teachers working together to make schools dynamic and democratic learning environments. This image is one that mirrors the vision and mission of our school and is reflected in our mission statement.
Reggio Emilia is a belief about children and their capabilities. Children have the potential, curiosity, and interest in construction their learning, in engaging in social interaction and in negotiating with everything the environment brings to them. It is creating an environment that encourages critical thinking, creativity and relationship. It is a place where children and adults construct knowledge and their understanding of the world together.
We began our Reggio-inspired journey in 2014, when the Webster University Partnership was established to mentor and lead toward this educational philosphy. Basic features of this approach are as follows.
The Image of the Child
First and foremost, we center our educational approach with the view that every child is strong, capable, and powerful. They are full of curiosity and wonder, and capable of constructing their learning. The teacher’s aim is to empower the children and give them the tools to explore their world and create meaning.
Learning is based on relationships. We consider learning to be a partnership between children, teachers, families, and the greater community. Our school values and supports all of these relationships. Teachers collaborate, brainstorm and research with children and with each other. Children and adults build communication skills, listen and exchange ideas, dialogue and problem solve together.
"The Hundred Languages of Children"
As we reimagine learning, we honor the hundreds of ways young children can share their thinking.The languages of exploration can include talking, writing, acting, drawing, clay, and movement. The hundred languages also represent the infinite amount of potential of each child when given the opportunity. We teach these tools as “expressive languages,” in order to help each child fully develop their own beautiful potential.
The Learning Environment
In the Reggio Approach, there is an emphasis on creating learning environments that encourage children’s critical thinking and creativity. The environment is carefully constructed to be a space of inspiration and discovery an with highly engaging materials.
Our learning environments expand beyond the classroom to include the school building, the playground, garden, and the neighborhood and beyond. The world is our classroom!
Observation and Documentation
Teachers listen and observe children’s actions, conversations, and various expressions of learning. Both adults and children revisit the work and reflect on what we have observed in order to determine our future directions.
Visual documentation is an important part of this learning cycle. It takes the form of written observations, photos, drawings, and children’s words, and becomes a part of our environment to communicate with our whole community.
All of these ways of working combine to form our emergent curriculum. Projects are developed through the inquiry cycle of observing, documenting, and reflecting. Although they may be guided by teacher objectives such as literacy and math skills, they are constantly evolving based on the unique needs and interests of each group.
In the words of Reggio educator Lella Gandini, “Projects are based on the strong conviction that learning by doing is of great importance and that to discuss in groups and to revisit ideas and experiences is essential to gain a better understanding and to learn. Projects may start from a chance event, an idea or a problem posed by one or more children, or an experience initiated directly by teachers. They can last from a few days to several months.”
The process of working on projects allows our students to practice their academic skills in meaningful, authentic ways.
Parents are an essential component of Reggio-inspired learning at Julia Goldstein. We consider parents to be partners with rights to participation and support of their children’s experience at school. We create opportunities for dialogue and collaboration to build a strong community.