The philosophy of education and pedagogy of Christina Kent Early Childhood Center are inspired by the world-renowned schools for young children in Reggio Emilia, Italy. We are inspired by the following principles of the Reggio Emilia Approach.
The image of the child as strong and competent
The foremost principle of the Reggio Emilia approach is the image of the child. At Christina Kent we believe children are powerful, curious, and ready to learn. We believe that children have rights rather than needs (Malaguzzi, 1998).
Collaboration between parents, teachers, and children
We believe parents, teachers, and children are seen as partners in education. Collaboration exists among all participants. The ideas that parents bring to the school are valued and exchanged with teachers and children. The parents’ voices are not perceived as a threat, but as important contributors to the dialogue concerning children (Spaggiari, 1998).
The environment as the third teacher
We believe the physical environment of the classrooms and center reflects identity, purpose, engagement, and communication. We use a wide range of materials to encourage exploration and investigation.
The power of documentation to make the learning process visible
Documentation plays a crucial role in the planning of future activities. Documentation includes children’s drawings, dictations, photographs, video recordings, and other representations that teachers and children revisit and reflect on. Children’s learning experiences are shared with parents and other visitors through documentation panels that are displayed throughout the center.
In-depth studies based on children’s interests
This approach includes the implementation of in-depth studies that are based on children’s interests. The teachers work with children while they conduct complex individual or small-group tasks over a period of several days or weeks. Teachers start with the children’s interests and purposely include certain materials or experiences related to it as jumping off points.
Collaborative planning and professional development
The teachers meet weekly for reflection and planning of classroom activities that extend children’s interests. Loris Malaguzzi, the leading founder of the approach, claimed that, “things about children and for children are only learned from children.” Curriculum planning includes an attention to observation, documentation, creative brainstorming, and flexibility in planning. Teachers are committed to their own professional growth and use documentation to reflect on their own practice. Teachers collaboratively discuss their interactions with children and individually make changes to their practice based on their reflections.
(From Lella Gandini ©2008)
Reggio Emilia International Study Tour
Once every five years, the North American Study Group organizes an International Study Tour to Reggio Emilia, Italy, so that educators can experience first-hand the municipal infant toddler centers and preschools for Reggio Emilia, Italy. The context and history of this community is highly regarded, rooted in choices made following WWII, pedagogical but also political, cultural and ethical choices which would support a new democratic society.
We are fortunate that Mary Bliss, and one of our teachers, Michelle Crespin, will be members of the November 8-16, 2013 Study Tour. Christina Kent Early Childhood Center will be enriched by the knowledge and experience these people will bring back to benefit our children. Watch for the post-tour reports and photos!