Thursday, May 16, 2013

Reggio Emilia - the child as an active participant

I had never heard of the Reggio Emilia approach until I talked to Leslie at Mother Goose Time.  I spent some time looking up articles about the approach today and was challenged by some of what it said.  Convicted of sorts.

Here is one of the articles I read.

The first core value is that the child is an active participant.  The teacher doesn't just instruct the children but instead follows the child's lead as a co-learner.

I don't feel like I am bad at this, I follow Lachlan's lead in a lot of situations.  However, I do need a curriculum to follow, otherwise I don't feel like I know where to start and thus, never get started.  I guess that's what I love about Mother Goose Time.  Each month has a theme, however, there are many different things with in that theme that we learn about.  In fact, every day has something new to learn about.  Everything that we are learning about is connected in a learning web.  For example, May is Bubbles, Boats and Floats.  We have learned about, ducks, alligators, rocks, waterfalls, lakes, rivers, pet grooming, fishing and so on.  All have a water element.  So far, all of the topics have been very interesting to Lachlan.

I have tweaked a few of the individual lessons to better fit Lachlan and his interest at the time.  For instance: on the alligator day.  We were using the topic to work on numbers.  We were counting out rocks for the alligator to swallow.  Did you know alligators swallow rocks to help digest their food?  At the moment Lachlan was playing with a toy tractor and no matter how much excitement I had in my voice he was not interested in talking about alligators anymore.  So I adapted and we counted out beans to put in the tractor trailer instead.

As I was thinking about the Reggio approach and how to follow Lachlan's lead with in the curriculum I came up with an idea.  Maybe I could pull out 3 or so of the Day Bags that come with Mother Goose Time and I could let him choose the topic for the day.  For the most part, each day can stand alone.  All the materials you need are in the bag for the day.  The only exception I can think of so far is the foam shapes that have been used a few times which we opened on Day 3.  I guess this is another thing that I love about Mother Goose Time (MGT), that each day can stand alone.  Due to the fact that Mother Goose Time's goal is for the kids to really learn their letters and numbers, not just memorize them, they are not taught in order.  So if the days are not taught in order I don't think it should affect the overall learning process. 

My plan - The first day of each week usually has a topic that sets up the other topics for the week.  For example, day 1 had rivers and the rest of the week was about things on or in a river.   So, at the beginning of each week I will stick to the MGT topic.  Then I will pull out 3 or so Day Bags from that weeks curriculum for him to choose from.  Each Day Bag has a picture of the topic at the front.  So this will be a very easy and visual way for him to choose.

I have to tell you, I tried this for tomorrows topic.  I asked him to choose what we are going to learn tomorrow.  I held out 2 topics (because they were the ones I had out already and in my file box) for him to choose from.  I had quite a bit of anxiety about it.  Should I go out of order, will it work, what if I get it all mixed up, will it make that big of a difference to him?  To my relief, he chose the one that was scheduled for tomorrow.  Phew!  But I will try this again, and I am sure he will choose one out of order eventually.

Of course I will let you know what I learn from this little experiment. 

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