At Mighty Bambinis, we believe children are competent, curious, resourceful learners. Our approach is inspired by the philosophies of Reggio Emilia (read more below) and Magda Gerber's RIE approach. We respect children by allowing them to develop at their own pace rather than expecting them to meet developmental milestones on our timetable. We show this through caring individualized support, positive encouragement, affection, frequent eye contact, and communicating at the child’s level. Children are encouraged to respect others and to care for one another.
Our curriculum provides firm limits and predictable routines, but within that framework children are entrusted with freedom to explore, make choices, play, and build autonomy. Our thoughtful and intentionally designed environment fosters children’s interests, relationships, and opportunities work cooperatively. Materials and projects are selected based on children’s interests and provoke a spirit of experimentation and inquiry.
Reggio Emilia Approach UnpackedBelow is a more in-depth description of the central components of the Reggio Emilia approach:
The image of the child. All children have preparedness, potential, curiosity; they have interest in relationship, in constructing their own learning, and in negotiating with everything the environment brings to them. Children should be considered as active citizens with rights, as contributing members, with their families, of their local community.
The role of parents. Parents are an essential component of the program; a competent and active part of their children’s learning experience. They are not considered consumers but co-responsible partners. Their right to participation is expected and supported; it takes many forms from reading at home, drop-ins during the day, field trip chaperoning, attendance at parent nights, supplying materials, suggesting ideas for “school” and more.
The role of space: The infant-toddler childcare conveys the message that this is a place where adults have thought about the quality and the instructive power of space. Space is often called the “third teacher.” The layout of physical space fosters exploration, communication, and relationships.
Teachers and children as partners in learning. A strong image of the child has to correspond to a strong image of the teacher. Teachers are not considered protective baby-sitters, teaching basic skills to children but rather they are seen as learners along with the children. They are thoughtful observers and empowered to embark on projects, activities and space changes that further children’s interests and curiosities.
There is not a pre-set curriculum but a process of inviting and sustaining learning. Once teachers have prepared an environment rich in materials and possibilities, they observe and listen to the children in order to know how to proceed with their work. Teachers use the understanding they gain thereby to act as a resource for children scaffolding learning rather than showing children how to do and how to think. They ask questions and thus discover the children’s ideas, hypotheses, and theories. The children and teachers re-visit and expand their understandings together.
The power of documentation. Transcriptions of children’s remarks and discussions, photographs of their activity, and representations of their thinking and learning are traces that are carefully studied. These documents have several functions. The most important among them is to help guide projects and the everyday experiences of children. Once these documents are organized and displayed they help to make parents aware of their children’s experience and maintain their involvement. They make it possible for teachers to understand the children better and to evaluate the teachers’ own work, thus promoting their professional growth; they make children aware that their effort is valued; and furthermore, they create an archive that traces the history of the school.
The many languages of children. Children are communicative beings who should be encouraged to express themselves in many different media. A space, special workshop or studio, at a Reggio childcare is known as an “atelier.” The atelier contains a great variety of tools and resource materials, along with records of past projects and experiences. Children do not make art per se, but they use the media as an integral part of the whole cognitive/symbolic expression involved in the process of learning.
Projects. Projects provide the narrative and structure to the children’s and teachers’ learning experiences. They are based on the strong conviction that learning by doing is of great importance and that to discuss in groups and to revisit ideas and experiences is essential to gain better understanding and to learn. Projects may start either from a chance event, an idea or a problem posed by one or more children, or an experience initiated directly by teachers. They can last from a few days to several months.
Content adapted from “Frequently Asked Questions Related to Reggio Emilia Philosophies and Experiences”, Retrieved December 9, 2009, fromhttp://www.reggioalliance.org/faq.php and Introduction to the Fundamental Values of the Education of Young Children in Reggio Emilia by Lella Gandini, adapted from “Introduction to the Schools of Reggio Emilia,” Insights and Inspirations: Stories of Teachers and Children from North America, L. Gandini, S. Etheredge & L. Hill, Ed., 2008
A bit about Magda Gerber's RIE (Resources for Infant Educarers)
From Dear Parent by Magda Gerber THE BASIS OF THE RIE APPROACH:
Respect is the basis of the RIE philosophy. We not only respect babies, we demonstrate our respect every time we interact with them. Respecting a child means treating even the youngest infant as a unique human being, not as an object.
Our Goal: An Authentic Child
An authentic child is one who feels secure, autonomous, and competent. When we help a child to feel secure, feel appreciated, feel that “somebody is deeply, truly interested in me,” by the way we just look, the way we just listen, we influence that child’s whole personality, the way that child sees life.
Trust in an Infant's Competence
We have basic trust in the infant to be an initiator, to be an explorer eager to learn what he is ready for. Because of this trust, we provide the infant with only enough help necessary to allow the child to enjoy mastery of her own actions.
Our method, guided by respect for the infant’s competence, is observation. We observe carefully to understand the infant’s communications and his needs. The more we observe, the more we understand and appreciate the enormous amount and speed of learning that happens during the first two or three years of life. We become more humble, we teach less, and we provide an environment for learning instead.
Caregiving Times: Involving the Child
During care activities (diapering, feeding, bathing, dressing, etc.), we encourage even the tiniest infant to become an active participant rather than a passive recipient of the activities. Educarers create opportunities for interaction, cooperation, intimacy and mutual enjoyment by being wholeheartedly with the infant during the time they spend together anyway. “Refueled” by such unhurried, pleasurable caring experiences, infants are ready to explore their environment with only minimal intervention by adults.
A Safe, Challenging, Predictable Environment
Our role is to create an environment in which the child can best do all the things that the child would do naturally. The more predictable an environment is, the easier it is for babies to learn. As infants become more mobile, they need safe, appropriate space in which to move. Their natural, inborn desire to move should not be handicapped by the environment.
Time for Uninterrupted Play and Freedom to Explore
We give the infant plenty of time for uninterrupted play. Instead of trying to teach babies new skills, we appreciate and admire what babies are actually doing.
We establish clearly defined limits and communicate our expectations to develop discipline.
Read more at: http://www.rie.org/educaring/ries-basic-principles/
Evelyn Nichols, M.Ed.