This blog is aimed at any parent who is looking for advice about child care and early learning. I do not work in this industry. My name is Keira, and I am just another loving parent who wants the best for her child. When my child was 2 years old, I decided to return to work. This was the beginning of my search for child care. Over the next couple of months, I learnt lots of useful things from other mothers and those who work in the industry. I hope this blog helps you to make the right choice when it comes to child care.
When you begin looking at child care centres for your pre-schooler, you'll need to take into consideration the different approaches to learning employed by different centres. A popular approach offered by early years child care providers is Reggio Emilia, which is an educational philosophy developed by Italian psychologist Loris Malaguzzi. This approach focuses on child-led learning and places importance on children being free to explore their environment.
Teachers encourage and support children to find the answers to the questions they have, rather than feeding them answers. Children work on projects in small groups to explore topics they have shown an interest in, and this encourages cooperation and the development of problem solving skills. A teacher's main role is that of facilitator, and the classroom environment promotes respect and a sense of community. Here's an overview of the key elements of the Reggio Emilia approach to pre-school education:
The Learning Environment
Reggio Emilia classrooms are open, comfortable and promote movement and communication between the children. Children can move freely between various learning stations during periods of free play time, and the learning stations are set up based on the teacher's observations of the children's interests and style of learning. The materials in the classroom are there to support the children's curiosity and change throughout the years as the children's interests change. Days do follow a structure, which is believed to foster a sense of security in young children, and time is planned for group projects, individual learning and outdoor play.
Documentation Of Learning
As much of a child's learning is independent rather than taught, Reggio Emilia teachers document each child's learning journey over the course of a year. With the focus being on learning through play rather than academic achievement, Reggio Emilia centres use visual displays, such as photos and artwork, to show the progress of each individual child. This helps teachers and parents understand how to best continue supporting a child as they explore the world around them.
In Reggio Emilia classrooms, children are listened to and encouraged to use language to express their feelings, investigate interests and reflect on what they've learned. A collaborative approach is taken to communication, and in addition to language being encouraged as a vital component in expanding knowledge, playing with language is also valued. Reggio Emilia students may have fun with language by singing songs, experimenting with sounds or creating rhymes.
If you think a Reggio Emilia child care centre may be the right fit for your child, visit a few and speak to the teachers before enrolling your child. It's also a good idea to visit child care centres that offer alternative approaches to early years education, such as Montessori centres, to gain a solid understanding of the different approaches on offer, as moving a young child after they've settled in to a child care centre can be quite upsetting for them.