Reggio Emilia is a city in the Emilia Romagna Region of northern Italy that has become famous for an approach to preschool education.
THE APPROACH WAS DISCOVERED BY
Loris Malaguzzi, an intellectually oriented young Italian teacher discovered and guided the Reggio Emilia system directly after theSecond World War (1945-46).
This system or approach fosters children’s intellectual development through a systematic focus on symbolic representation. Young children are encouraged to explore their environment and express themselves through all their natural "languages" or modes of expression including words, movement, drawing, painting, building, sculpture, shadow play, collage, dramatic play and music.
KEY POINTS USED IN OUR PROGRAM
• Problem-solving approach to learning.
• Use of small groups in project learning.
• Communal activity and sharing of culture.
• Reciprocity, exchange and dialogue.
• Repeat key experiences.
• Documentation of children’s work and dialogue.
• Re-examination of and experimentation with projects and work.
• Artistic impression through drawing, painting, collage, sculpture and clay work.
• Other modes of expression through dramatic play, music and building.
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We believe free play provides the following positive benefits:
During play, a child develops sophisticated responses to the discoveries he or she is making, and learns to make language work for his or herself in advancing the adventure.
Playing with others is the best way for children to develop social skills. Children tend to start in solitary activities, then proceed to engaging in parallel-play, before progressing to cooperative forms of playful and imaginative activity.
Even the simplest play activity involves the use of large and small muscles. Our children learn a sense of space as they playfully squeeze under a chair, a sense of balance as they try to walk on a line, a sense of direction as they throw a ball; all these motor skills are best learned through play.
A child feels confident taking risks as he or she plays. She becomes more independent, willing to take responsibility for her action. While at play, a child has to make many decisions about what to do next. They learn the art of creative problem-solving skills: identify the problem, think of a solution, carry it out, and, if it doesn’t work, construct another. Our emotional wellbeing is closely related to our progress in all areas of development, and play provides crucial tools for our well-rounded emotional and intellectual life.
The Montessori, "Exercises of Practical Life," are a component of our curriculum. These are simple activities which the adult keeps performing daily in order to maintain and restore proper conditions in the environment and to establish, maintain and restore social relations with other members of the family and society. The child, from the very moment of birth, observes these activities and becomes familiar with them. These activities are introduced so that children can satisfy their need for meaningful activities.
SOME OF THE ACTIVITIES INCLUDE
• Rolling the mat
• Chair Exercise
• Threading Beads
• Pouring from one jug into another bowl
• Spooning into one bowl
• Funnel Exercise
• Dropper Exercise
• Walking on the line
The aim of these activities is to help the child grow in independence, in the ability to care for his or herself, the environment and his or her social relations.
The Exercise of Practical life provide the base for a mathematical mind. There are points of consciousness present in the exercises which help to develop the child's reasoning power, judgement, exactness, precision and assessment of the child's individual work. For example, when the child is performing the exercise of pouring water from one jug into 3 glasses, the child is being indirectly prepared for a mathematical basis of judgement and reasoning power.
The Sensorial apparatus introduced to the children are materials which were scientifically made. Each material is calculated and exact. Each material has an isolated quality. For example, the colour box 1, is the identification of primary colours. These materials help in refinement of the senses.
"If teaching is to be effective with young children, it must assist them to advance on the way to independence. It must initiate them into those kinds of activities which they can perform themselves and which keep them from being a burden to others because of their inabilities. We must help them to learn how to walk without assistance, to run, to go up and down the stairs, to pick up fallen objects, to dress and undress, to wash themselves, to express their needs in a way that is clearly understood, and to attempt to satisfy their desires through their own efforts. All this is part of an education for independence."(The Discovery of the Child, Maria Montessori)
Working with clay encourages imaginative play and the construction of three-dimensional artworks that the child can experience as powerful tools for expressing his or her emotions and ideas. Pushing, pulling, poking, stretching, squishing, pounding, squeezing and rolling: the soft texture of clay provides a pleasing sensory experience and the rhythmic motion of kneading or rolling clay has a soothing effect. Alternatively, punching and pounding a lump of clay can also relieve pent up anger or upset feelings - a good outlet for expressing emotions!
Our children also use various tools to work with clay, which assist greatly in the development of
Music is a very important part of our school; children have a natural affinity for music and songs, and develop physical and mental coordination through the rhythms of dance, movement, and songs. A qualified teacher leads our music program once a week for thirty minutes. Children love experimenting with a wide variety of instruments such as bells, shakers, triangles and drums, and this helps them investigate how different sounds are made. Singing, dancing and making music are emotion-releasing forms of personal expression, while at the same time offering great memory-work as the children are naturally drawn to learning the words to a song.
The educational benefits from working in the garden are cross-curricular and extend into a wide array of disciplines, including natural science (ie. life cycles, importance of insects), math (ie. counting and sorting seeds), language arts (ie. acquisition of nature vocabulary), visual arts (ie. garden design), and health studies (ie. making healthful food choices).