Dalhousie Preschool is inspired by the Reggio Emilia philosophy of education. This philosophy of teaching (originally from Italy) is based on observing children; what they know, what they are curious about, how they learn and what challenges them. Teachers then use these observations to reflect on during their planning to help provide developmentally appropriate ways to help children expand their academic and social potentials.
At the centre of a Reggio Inspired approach is “the image of the child.” We view the children in our playschool as competent, curious, full of knowledge, potential, and interested in connecting to the world around them. They are driven by their curiosity and interest in knowing more. Within a safe and nurturing classroom, the children are able to construct and communicate their desire for learning- “Why are the clouds so fluffy?” “What happens if put this on my tower?” “Where in the world do people ride on donkeys?” “When do we plant these seeds?”
The teacher’s role is to observe and listen to the children; to ask questions and follow the children’s thoughts, ideas and answers. Instead of pre-determined curriculums, the Reggio approach encourages a child-led approach to planning. Planning and curriculums are not planned in advanced, instead they emerge based on the child’s interests, questions and narratives. This nurtures acollaborative process; rather than the child asking a question and the teacher offering the answers, materials and resources are provided to help them investigate the answers together.
Within a Reggio approach, the environment is seen as “the third teacher.” It has the potential to inspire children, to encourage thoughts and to foster interest. Our classroom is a large and open space with lots of natural light. The materials and resources offered to the children are meaningfully chosen by the teachers for specific purposes and the classroom is ever-evolving to encourage children to delve deeper into their interests.
Of particular note within the Reggio Emilia philosophy towards education is “The Hundred Languages of Children.” This poem (as shown below) fosters the belief that children are unique and complex. They use many ways to engage with their world, many ways to show their understanding, many ways to express themselves. The approach emphasises that children have “A hundred different ways of thinking, of discovering, of learning.” In our classroom we value the importance of each of these Hundred languages and work to engage the children in them- through drawing and building, through dance and movement, through painting and pretend play, through science and music.