A Reggio Inspired Journey of Learning and Teaching with Toddlers
As educators we are constantly interpreting, questioning and analyzing our daily observations of our students, in order to better provide support and to guide and facilitate their individual learning. When the school year is first under way we begin anew acquainting ourselves with these new children that have entered through our doors; each one bringing with them their own unique perspective and knowledge of the world thus far. Have they touched clay before? Have they explored with blocks before? Have they poked and truly investigated the properties of a tomato? Have they had opportunities to interact with other children? So many questions, so many interpretations, so many possibilities!
One toddler approaches a sectioned tray with rocks, corks and sea shells. She picks it up and automatically dumps it on the table, excited that it all came crashing down with a loud sound as they tumble together. Another child was watching her but he choose to sort the loose parts, grouping and classifying them according to like characteristics. Same materials, different experiences! I find this a common occurrence in the toddler classroom. Each student is provided the freedom to investigate the materials at their developmental level. Each one handles them in a way that makes sense or is relevant to them.
Small lights are placed inside clear containers made easy for the children to reflect on and react to them. It’s interesting to observe their different perspectives.
Big blocks provide countless opportunities for learning. Large muscle movement, balancing, coordinating their body in space. Some children approach the blocks boldly stepping up and walking across confidently, others, attempt cautiously, needing an adults hand to help them across.
Our role as teachers is to support and further challenge the children. We like to feel that we are contributing in a positive manner to their sense of autonomy. The image of the child is a vital part of our philosophy and a focal point in our program. Providing enriching experiences which contribute to building competency and success are imperative.
As this is my first blog, I am feeling unsure and anxious about how others will perceive or interpret my observations and opinions. Although I have been teaching for almost 30 years, I have spent the last 5 in a Reggio inspired classroom. This was a big change for me. I had a lot of questions and my perspective on early learning has taken a new direction. I am excited for this opportunity, but, still am trying to make sense of this new/old philosophy. But I realize that I am constantly changing, challenging myself and learning each day. I suppose, just like these new children entering our school environment, I too am entering a new social environment (social media). Like them I am willing to explore, take a chance and begin a new journey of learning.
Malaguzzi often said that in learning effort and pleasure come together; this is the path we need to look for and go down with the children; not the simplest perhaps, but neither in the end is it so terribly difficult. (Vecchi 2010)