There are 6 important lessons that the Reggio approach teaches-Each of these 6 will be covered in the class, Rethinking Kindergarten, and participants will dig deeper into ways they can incorporate some of these strategies and philosophies into their current teaching. Consider this a quick and dirty overview of what exactly the Reggio approach believes and teaches students about art and their world. If you are just joining us, the Reggio Approach originated in world renowned preschools in Reggio Emilia, Italy and now around the world. It involves a full time art teacher as well as content teachers who work together to help students learn more about their world in a more integrated and authentic way. Basically everything our current US Education system isn’t! I personally find it all very refreshing and fascinating. We never learned these things in school- and chances are your PD at your school won’t cover it- So you’ve come to the right place to elevate your learning and your students as well!
Research is taken from the text below, the Hundred Languages of Children, which we use in the class. Ideas and reflections are my own.
6 Lessons Reggio Teaches
1. Project Work
Project work is defined as in-depth projects taken on by small groups of children. The interesting thing about project work in Reggio is that it centers around every day experiences, such as grocery shopping or tending to the garden. Too often, teachers bring around eccentric topics that are very far from the student’s reality (i.e.: Space Travel or the prehistoric age). Students at this age have a hard time relating to such abstract concepts and can become equally and even more interested in the everyday as well as working with each other through projects.
Reflect: What projects do you do with students that help them relate better to THEIR world around them? Do you do enough project based work?
2. Treating Children’s Work Seriously
In Reggio, the work produced in the art room is not simply decorative in nature to be put up on the refrigerator. The artwork is an important resource to help the student learn concepts, and explore and deepen their knowledge of the world around them. The artwork helps the teachers plan for the next steps for that student, just like a formative assessment.
Reflect: Do you promote the artwork in purely a decorative way or aim to get something deeper out of the lesson?
3. Realistic and Imaginative Representation
It’s important for students to draw both realistic and imaginative. You don’t have to choose one or the other. Both contribute to the students development in a positive way. Visual arts are thought of as languages for the children to communicate when they many not have the words or writing skills to do so. How they accomplish this can be diverse.
Reflect: Do you shun realistic how to draw books? Are you so focused on the student’s art looking representational that you forget to let them imagine? Realize you don’t have to choose. Foster both in your art room!
4. Teacher- Child Relationships
In the US, teacher and child relationships is focused so much on the routines and rules that teachers are usually too busy or too reluctant to engage students in real conversation for sake of structure (Sidenote- Dark cloud forms over my head, as I am TOTALLY guilty of this and really really want to work harder on it). In Reggo is the opposite, the work and conversation between the teacher and student is the center of the learning. The student is not just an object of praise or target of instruction, they are thought of as apprentices, working WITH the teacher to foster learning. This is powerful stuff, people!
Reflect: What are small ways you can engage the students in conversation more? Do you think of students as “targets of instruction” and not as little people you are molding? Too often we can get into that trap.
5. Children’s Sense of What Adults Think is Important
Children can pick up on what they think the adult finds important or what gets the most attention. Too often we only give attention to the negative behaviors and forget to point out the good things the are happening in our art rooms. Students will pick up on this like wildfire- hence behaviors.
Reflect: In what ways to you communicate successes to your students?
6. Family-School Relationships
The Reggio school is thought of as the extended family of the students. Teachers and parents work together to help mold the child’s education. Teachers stay with students for several years and work with mixed age groups to foster that family feeling. In the US we are so quick to move on to the next thing we don’t always let things linger long enough to have a truly lasting impression.
Reflect: In what ways to reach out to parents to foster that community and family feeling?
Feel free to answer any of the reflection questions in the comment section too much good conversation to be had! I can’t wait to hear what you think about this new way of thinking. Which lesson do you want to work on the most? Mine is #4!