As in Montessori, Reggio Emilia teachers have great respect for the capabilities and growing independence of children. Much of the same language is used in regard to problem solving and fostering self-confidence in the child. The environment plays a critical role in learning, as it does in Montessori. This aspect of the program will be a work in progress, as we work to find a good rhythm and seek out space to let long-term project work grow.
Long-term projects are one of the key characteristics of Reggio Emilia. Long-term projects are exactly what they seem – spending an extended period of time exploring a topic, event, or concept. To start out, I will be deciding these long-term projects while we all get accustomed to the new afternoon routine and iron out the bumps in this program. Eventually, my goal is to base new projects on what your children are interested in learning about. It will take a bit of time to get to that point, but I am excited to find out what your child is interested in.
Perhaps the biggest difference between Montessori and Reggio Emilia is the open-endedness of Reggio activities. Rather than having a specific, intended outcome for various materials, the work I set out will be open for interpretation. I may have had a certain idea in mind when putting the activity together, but it is up to the child to decide how the materials will be used. This kind of learning is valuable to the development of problem solving skills and allows each child to explore their own wonderings. My goal with this work is to encourage a willingness within your child to try something new and a tolerance for trying again if it doesn’t turn out how they expected it might.
Another aspect of the Reggio Emilia philosophy that I would like to focus on is documentation. Documentation is a way to capture learning through photographs, children’s work, or children’s words, and then use it later on as a way to further investigation and understanding of the work. In many Reggio-inspired classrooms, this may take the form of wall space dedicated to documentation that children, families, and teachers can reflect on. I may try that from time to time, depending on the project, but more often than not I will document the learning through a weekly journal that I send to your email. This will look different week to week, but will include photos, quotes, and descriptions of the work being done. This will allow me to share with you some of the work your child is doing in the afternoons, and will also afford me the opportunity to reflect on the work being done and make changes where necessary or find areas where I might enhance the learning experience.
I am so excited to get this program up and running, and I hope you are as well! Please feel free to reach out with comments or questions regarding this program or special interests your child has.
Job Title: Reggio Emilia Afternoon Program Coordinator/Guide