Take the best of Montessori and play-based, blend well, and — ta-da! — you have this artsy, idealistic philosophy that’s so cutting edge and groovy, it’s the basis for Google’s on-site preschool for its Silicon Valley employees. And in Manhattan, former members of Blue Man Group have started their own Reggio Emilia-inspired preschool, the Blue Man Creativity Center. (Kids spitting paint to make spin art, anyone?) Reggio Emilia gets its name from the small Italian city in which parents, teachers, and public officials banded together to create schools that rose above the lockstep mindset from past decades, opening their first preschool in 1963. In 1991, Newsweek named Reggio Emilia’s school system one of the 10 best in the world.
Building Blocks teachers are inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach. Since we opened our school in 2004, our entire school has been influenced by this philosophy. The Schools in Reggio Emilia, Italy education closely matches our School’s mission and belief that all children are naturally curious and have unlimited potential
“The wider the range of possibilities we offer children, the more intense will be their motivations and the richer their experiences.” — Loris Malaguzzi
In 2014 two of Building Blocks Preschools, Educators, Ms. Jennifer Young, Lead Teacher and Ms. Suzanne Gabli, owner and Executive director studied and learned hands on about the schools, culture and childhood from the Italian perspective. This educational philosophy started after World War II and is based on the principles of respect, responsibility, and community through exploration and discovery.
They visited Loris Malaguzzi International Centre and Guided Tours of Exhibits and Ateliers, Ray of Light and Atelier at Remida, Presentation of a Research Project from the School, Sharing Reflections, Tour of the Infant/Toddler and Early Childhood Centers of Cavriago.
What Parents and Teachers Say
Expect a major emphasis on community. The Reggio Emilia approach reflects the Italian cultural view that children are the collective responsibility of the state. From the beginning, community and collaboration have been vital parts of the philosophy. Teachers work as teams, and students are encouraged to do the same. Parents are expected to take part in discussions about school policy, child development, curriculum planning, and evaluation.
Your children’s lives will never again be so well-documented. Teachers are constantly videotaping and photographing children in action, as well as the kids’ finished projects. Not only is this viewed as an important tool in the learning process for children, teachers, and parents alike, it could mean you’ll never lack for scrapbook material. The art program is colossally creative. Reggio schools tend to have the best-stocked craft rooms anywhere: It’s core to the philosophy of boosting children’s creativity to the nth power. “The kids just create,” my friend Diana says. “It’s amazing to see what they come up with, with no rules.” The flip side: Post-Reggio art experiences are a letdown. As Diana’s son, now in conventional first grade, says, “I hate being told what to make.” The super-progressive vibe attracts super-progressive parents. Reggio Emilia schools, though not inherently p.c., can seem very much p.c. when it comes to everything from diversity, holiday celebrations, and snacks (organic and no-sugar preferred) to a sweetly (or cloyingly) “Kumbaya” take on conflict resolution. At Diana’s school, kids who aren’t getting along visit the “Peace Place” to discuss what happened and how it made them feel. Indeed.From: Wondertime.go.com
Great attention is given to the look and feel of our classrooms – it is often referred to as the “third teacher”. Aesthetic beauty is seen to us as an important part of respecting our children and their learning environment. Building Blocks strongly believes in the power of nature to inspire and teach children. We have made sure children at Building Blocks are surrounded and immersed in earthy, homely influences, filled with beauty, varying in textures, shapes and spaces. Children will be encouraged to explore, investigate, ponder, create, imagine, and wonder.
Children will have access to mini art studios (arteliers) that will have clay, non-toxic paints, as well as natural materials such as shells, seeds, bark, and leaves as well as recycled materials like spools and tubes.
Informational articles about Reggio Inspired Practice.
Here are some reflections from teachers Reggio Emilia:
~Take time to listen and know what you are listening for.
~Listen to each child’s melody.
~Provide space and time to be alone.
~Accept the premise that learning need not be lonely.
~Recognize that dialog is more valuable than singular thought.
~Keep boredom away.
~Value the process of thinking.
~Help children ask, “Why?”
~Seek truth, but realize there is no one truth.
~Accept and value differences
~Shun the stigma associated with a disability
~Have a profound respect for each child.
~Look further into the reasons for a child’s behavior, rather than just the external signs.
~Recognize that it is all about relationships.
~Understand the importance of enjoying food and rest.
~Observe, document, interpret.
~Wait, watch, respond.
~Recognize that documentation is visible listening.
~View the child as the protagonist in the environment.
~See the teacher as a facilitator and guide assisting the child in learning.
~Understand that instruction and education are different.
~Do not hurry the child or yourself.