In the early childhood education field there are numerous different philosophies of teaching and managing curriculum. Here at Stenberg we are taught about the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education.
Reggio Emilia is a philosophy that started in a small town in Italy after the Second World War. The idea was that children develop their own personalities from a very early age and express themselves through “100 languages”. The aim of this approach is teaching children how to use these symbolic languages (eg. painting, modeling, dramatic play) in everyday life. The program is based on the ideas of respect, responsibility, and community through exploration and discovery in a supportive environment based on the interests of the children through a self-guided curriculum.
Forming a curriculum based on the children’s interests can be challenging, as there is not a lot of time for preparation and it requires quick thinking on the part of the teacher.
This module we talked about webbing and how expanding on the children’s interests with like topics can help us form the bases of curriculum. Our task was to web a particular topic and come up with several ideas for activities from that topic. My group picked the topic of Seasons, which gave us Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer to work with.
We talked about words, activities and events associated with the four seasons and from those words we found activities that would be inviting and developmentally appropriate for children.
In the Reggio Emilia style of teaching it is very important to make use of natural products, use transparency and provide the children with opportunities for collaboration with each other, their teachers, family and community. Everyone’s activities had a lot of different materials for children to use so that they could express their “100 languages”. One group, who had the theme of weather, came up with a science activity that used water with shaving cream on top and had food coloring the children could drop onto the top to emulate a cloud and how it rains. Another group, who had the topic of water, provided the children with shells, sand, rocks and paint and invited them to create a beach scene. Everyone in the class provided materials that were open-ended and allowed the children to take their own ideas and create whatever they wanted.
Learning about Reggio Emilia has expanded my thoughts on developing and teaching curriculum to children. Growing up, I experienced theme based childcare centers, where teachers had their themes for the year planned out and every month was something different that the teacher had thought of before hand. I personally liked the idea of theme based curriculum planning because I like to be organized and plan ahead for what I am teaching.
Thanks to the opportunity to learn about Reggio Emilia and emerging curriculum, I feel like my personal philosophy has changed a bit.
If I ever had my own child care center, I would try to incorporate some planned themes as well as do my best to expand on the ideas of the children in my center in order to keep my program child centered.