By: Jill Kushnir LeVee, Assistant Head of School
Junior Kindergarten and Kindergarten teachers are on a journey of studying and embracing the Reggio Emilia approach to learning. At the core of this approach, Junior Kindergarten and Kindergarten children are honored as we embrace the knowledge and wonder that children bring to the learning experience. The environment inspires their exploration, creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving as they build a deeper understanding of the world around them. As a Jewish school, Judaism serves as the lens in which we educate our children. Key elements of a Reggio-inspired classroom include:
1. Children form an understanding of themselves and their place in the world through their interactions with others.
- There is a strong focus on social collaboration where each child’s thoughts and questions are valued.
- Working in small groups enables children to grow and develop through their interactions with peers, educators, and the world around us.
2. Children are natural communicators and use the Hundred Languages of Children to investigate, explore, and reflect on their experiences.
- The concept of The Hundred Languages of Children, created by the founder of the Reggio Emilia approach, Loris Malaguzzi, encourages children to express their ideas, wonders, and explorations through words, movement, drawings, paintings, buildings, sculptures, photos, etc.
3. The classroom environment acts as the third teacher.
- The environment is recognized for its potential to inspire children.
- The environment is filled with beauty and order and every material is considered for its purpose.
- The classroom environment is ever-changing to encourage the children to delve deeper into their interests.
- The space encourages collaboration, communication, and exploration.
- Children are respected as capable and provided with authentic materials and tools.
- The space is cared for by the children and adults.
4. An emergent curriculum develops from the collaboration of the teachers and children where educators serve as mentors and guides.
- The role of the educators is to observe children, listen to their questions and stories, find what interests them and then provide them with opportunities to explore these interests further.
5. Documenting children’s thoughts, ideas, questions, and interests makes learning visible.
- Educators carefully document children’s thoughts and ideas through transcripts, photos, videos, and visual representations.
- This documentation is displayed and shared in a manner that makes learning visible to the children, their parents, and the community.
- Documentation brings further depth to children’s learning as they revisit their experiences and reflect on their learning.
- Documentation demonstrates a respect for children’s work.
- The documentation informs the educators of the ideas, thoughts, questions, and interests of the children. It is from studying these documentations that the educators make planning decisions based on what individuals or groups of children find interesting, stimulating or challenging.
6. Parents are partners in education.
- Parents are respected as a critical component of their child’s learning community.