There is no doubt that the Coronavirus has impacted our community tremendously. Lives have been lost, and our day to day routines have been turned upside down. We are all doing our best to stay healthy and keep our families safe. As a community we are doing what we can to support one another. There is no going “back to normal,” and that’s okay. Communities have always been able to rebuild. We are strong, and we hold on to the hope we have by coming together with a common purpose – to survive.
People are resilient. When we want to make a change, it’s important to look at the foundation. How can we change if we don’t know how we got to where we are today? Most of the time, the starting point to anything had a plan or purpose that got twisted into something that just isn’t working anymore. We find ourselves unhappy, unfulfilled, or stressed. Sometimes even all three – the trifecta. After things come crumbling down (metaphorically or not), it’s time to bring back the basics and take a look at the foundation of it all. Sometimes it’s even best to start from scratch.
This brings me to the story of Reggio Emilia, Italy. Post-World War II, the small town of Reggio Emilia wanted to rebuild their community. They wanted a change, and this included changing the way they educated their children. This was the start to the Reggio Emilia approach, a way of early childhood education that was supported by both the parents and the community. The approach involves facilitating an environment where the children have some control over their learning.
The philosophy has a set of 7 guiding principles:
- Children are capable to construct their own learning.
- Children are collaborators and learn through interaction within their communities.
- Children are natural communicators and should be encouraged to express themselves however they feel they can.
- The classroom environment acts as the third teacher.
- Teachers are partners, nurturers, and guides who help facilitate the exploration of children’s interest as they work on short and long-term projects.
- Documentation is a critical component of communication.
- Parents are partners in education.
This approach focuses on the natural development of children. “The child is viewed as being an active constructor of knowledge.” By observing children in a natural environment, the community was able to design an approach that would focus on the natural learning abilities of the child. This getting back to the basics approach has been a growing philosophy in the field of early childhood education. “Children are considered to be ‘knowledge bearers,’ so they are encouraged to share their thoughts and ideas about everything they could meet or do during the day.” This approach facilitates a learning environment where the child is the lead, and the parents and teachers construct their teaching around what the child naturally wants to learn.
This approach is the foundation to my philosophy as a childcare center provider. When we focus on the needs and wants of the child, we are able to create a learning environment with endless possibilities.
It takes a village, and that is exactly what the community in Reggio Emilia did. I believe that in all things in life, it’s important to return to the foundations. As we are living through this pandemic, it’s important to get back to the basics when we are looking to restart and rebuild. It’s important to work together as a community, and to create an environment where we can all be the best versions of ourselves. When we start with children, we can make an impact on our future.
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash