Children Researching Their World

As we look ahead to the Junior School Parent Coffee Talk about Reggio-inspired learning next week, we are presented with a good opportunity to reflect on and articulate the ‘why’ of what we do. As educators, it is important to look beyond curriculum, to the pedagogy that supports teaching and learning and to ensure our practice is grounded in the best conditions for learning.

At the Junior School we have been working under the inspiration of the Reggio Emilia approach for several years. For the past 60 years, this internationally renowned approach has been influencing education and the development of learner competencies. You can read more about Reggio Emilia in this pdf.

Recently, there have been many examples of teaching and learning that embody the principles of this approach at the Junior School. Our image of the child as competent, capable, and rich in potential was reflected in our Grade 2 learners confidently heading out into the local community to personally shop for groceries for women in need at the Sandy Merriman House, using the earnings from their Gingerbread cookie sale.

Meanwhile, down the hallway, our youngest learners in Kindergarten prepared questions to find out stories behind our faculty and staff’s names and independently interviewed these members of our school community, with microphones no less, facilitating video documentation of the process. Being researchers comes naturally to Kindergarten as they explore their world. An exploration of our school garden beds in the fall led to a connection with composting, which in turn led to an investigation of worms! Our skillful educators guided the curriculum concept of living things with the students curiosity and interest in worms, thoughtfully facilitating emergent curriculum. The learning continued in our Imagination Lab, where the students engaged in a creative thinking exercise that had them designing a playground for worms. Real world connections to the terms of ‘user’ and ‘prototype’ emerged from this highly creative experience, using repurposed and natural materials.

With relationships at the heart of a Reggio-inspired approach, we regard parents as essential partners in supporting the children’s learning journeys. I invite you to learn more about this approach through the Kindergarten classroom lens at the Junior School Parent Coffee Talk on Tuesday (December 4) at 8:30am in the Junior School library.

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Margaret Lincoln
Mrs. Margaret Lincoln is program specialist at St. Michaels University School's Junior School.

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