Play-Based, Reggio-Inspired Learning
Rosedale Playschool is a play-based, Reggio-inspired program.
In her book “Let Me Play,” author Elizabeth Munroe uses the term “play” to refer to any activity a child freely chooses, can change at any time, can manipulate in any way (within reason), and can stop at any time. Basically, children learn by doing.
Hands-on activities that have been chosen by the child can help make sense of the world and develop social, emotional, physical, intellectual, and creative skills. The aim of a play-based school is to provide a variety of interesting learning centers where a child is free to choose what they want to play with.
In our classroom, you will see the exploration of topics that come from the needs and interests of the children in the program. We work hard to explore the topics that come up and when that topic changes or when the children move on to another interest we try to make the necessary changes in the materials and room to reflect whatever the children wish to explore.
We set up the stations so the children can freely ask questions and find answers through their own exploration and investigation. We put care into planning and arranging the centers and room to make sure that there are enough materials for children to explore and play with, that the materials are easily accessible, that there is a variety of different materials for children to use, and that the room and centers are safe.
Our planning is sensitive to the needs, interests, and abilities of the children in the program. As early childcare professionals, we listen, observe and engage the children in play to identify interests, to learn with the children, and help children expand their knowledge and learning through meaningful experiences.
To help enable the children’s learning and development we are strongly influenced by the Reggio Emilia philosophy.
As reflected above, with the Reggio Emilia philosophy the curriculum is not child-centered or teacher-directed; rather, the curriculum is child-originated and teacher-framed.
In following this approach, our role is to:
- co-explore the learning experience with the children,
- to provoke ideas, develop skills for problem solving, and conflict resolution,
- to take ideas from the children and return them for further exploration,
- to organize the classroom and materials to be aesthetically pleasing,
- to organize materials to help children make thoughtful decisions about the media, and to document children’s progress with written, audio, video and photographic observations.
We approach the child as a:
- Collaborator: Teachers collaborate with the children in the room on the play/learning experiences and projects; and,
- Communicator: Understanding how each child learns and communicates is important for the teachers and important to encourage the children to express themselves in many different ways.
Another very important piece is that we view the environment as a third teacher. Using the environment and making it aesthetically pleasing is important. A lot of time is spent organizing and cleaning the room and making it comfortable. As teachers we view ourselves as a partner, nurturer, and guide. We make a strong emphasis to actively listen to the children to make sure that we are guiding and supporting the children in their play, exploration, and learning.
Our program is community-based and oriented. This is not as much of a geographical approach, but instead a philosophical one.
The community involves all the parents/guardians, students, teachers, Playschool Board and local agencies that offer educational support. The community’s voices are heard in newsletters, in documentation, in photographs, and in the classrooms.
Our core values and beliefs are embedded in an emerging child-centered curriculum. Ongoing collaboration among children, teachers and parents is documented and displayed throughout the building.
The early childhood educational system of the municipality of Reggio Emilia, Italy, provides the inspiration and principles upon which our program is built.
Our program is designed to address and support the interests, needs and abilities of the students and school community:
- Teachers, parents and children construct knowledge together through well-planned conversation and activities.
- Children are involved in solving all problems in the school from caring for class pets to getting along with each other.
- Beautiful spaces throughout the classroom provoke and support learning.
- The relationship between the inside and the outside of the school is evident in the lighting, plants and trees.
- Partnerships are forged between the school and local organizations.
- Teachers are dedicated to continuous professional development.
- Diversity is a celebration made visible in our classroom, artwork, plants, people, and perspectives.