It’s never too late to slow down. To stop and reflect. To change. There is no universal “How to” manual. You can rewrite as many times and as often as you need to. There is no such thing as the “right” way. All we can do is learn from our mistakes and continue to better ourselves and our environment. The Reggio Emilia philosophy is a growing approach to early childhood education. The approach involves facilitating an environment where the children have some control over their learning. The guiding principles to this philosophy include that:
- 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.
There are no set rules or steps to becoming Reggio inspired. There is not a curriculum to turn to or guidelines to print off. It’s simple. It’s turning off the need to control that’s been embedded in our brains. It’s reflecting, it’s willing to learn and make mistakes. And most importantly, it’s taking the time to honor both the child and the teacher. Being Reggio inspired, means creating an environment that allows each member of the school family to be the best version of themselves. To break free from our idea of what a structured school system is and focus on the view of the child.
We must understand how we play a role in how we are teaching. We must give ourselves the freedom to deconstruct the normalities of education to honor our authentic selves as well as giving children the freedom that they deserve when it comes to how they want to learn.
At Kids at Play, we respect the individual. The child, the teacher, the parent. Everyone brings something different to the community, and each person plays an important part. Not every classroom will be the same, because not every teacher is the same. When a teacher is comfortable in their environment, they are more capable of providing an engaging and inspiring environment for the children. Once the environment is created, the rest comes naturally.
To be Reggio inspired means tapping into individuality so that everyone can succeed and finding that level of comfort that works for everyone. There must be a balance so that not only our teachers can feel comfortable being authentic, but so that our children can have the freedom to learn their way while also preparing for the outside world. We are doing more than providing care and teaching, we are creating experiences and reflecting on how we can continuously improve.
Being inspired is a process. We must reflect every day. We need time as a team and as a community to reflect on how we can do better; how we can be more inspired. We reflect at the end of every school year. We take the weight off and take a deeper look at ourselves and our community. Where can we do better? What worked? What did not work? Where was the conflict? There will always be work in progress, because when it comes to our children, the work is never done. We never stop learning.