A large section of snowy ice has begun to melt in a sunny corner of Hudson College, creating an island that appears to float on a puddle of water. Our youngest students saw this island of ice as an invitation to jump on top of it, breaking its mass into dozens of pieces. The pieces of ice then became bricks to build walls and dominos to topple…creations of children’s inventive play. Hudson’s Kindergarten students and their teacher decided to take a large piece of ice into their classroom. This piece of ice – a natural element of the children’s physical environment – became an object of wonder and inquiry in the classroom. As the students examined the ice they were inspired to use descriptive words, to ask questions and propose theories about its texture and coldness. As a collaborative group, they decided to find out how long “the big piece of ice” would take to melt. Predictions and theories were made by the students and documented by their teacher. Through out the day many of the students returned to the ice to re-examine it, to alter their original predictions and to revise their theories about it.
The melting ice will engage students in measurement, they will learn about properties of matter and temperature. They will be inspired to write about the ice, using the descriptive words their teacher documented.
And so, the kindergarten students became immersed in the Reggio Emilia inspired teaching practices that is formally being introduced into the Hudson College elementary program. Within the next couple of years, we hope to enrich all of our elementary grades with Reggio inspired pedagogy.
Our Kindergarten program is designed to establish a solid foundation for our students' future academic success, and is based on experiential learning. From the outset, our young learners are seen as intellectually powerful, naturally inquisitive, and innately creative.
We encourage them to share their thoughts and ideas, to collaborate, and to compare and problem solve together.
At Hudson, we have established a Reggio Emilia inspired teaching pedagogy that encourages children to explore, investigate, and grow. The Reggio Emilia approach to teaching originated in Northern Italy and is founded on the belief that children's curiosity about their world, as well as their innate sense of creativity, should guide their learning. Reggio Emilia inspired teachers observe children, support their interests and document their learning in order to reflect on developmentally appropriate ways to help their students expand their knowledge. Long-term collaborative projects connect core academic areas of Language, Mathematics, Science and The Arts.
The following principals guide Hudson College's Reggio Emilia inspired kindergarten program.
The Image of the Child
At Hudson we define our students as capable, imaginative, reflective, knowledgeable, inquisitive learners. Our teachers use the potential in all their students to create learning experiences that are guided by children's interests and talents, while simultaneously meeting curriculum requirements.
Reggio inspired teaching practices depends on collaborative partnerships between parents, teachers and students. Reciprocity of continuous learning takes place between all three partners. Visual documentation of children's learning is made available to the three partners for the purpose of examining the student's learning so as to move it forward.
The space in which children learn is defined as the third teacher in Reggio inspired schools. Spaces are intentionally designed for collaborative, inquiry-based work.
The teacher plays a very special role in the children's learning. She is a co-constructor of knowledge, a researcher, a documenter, and an advocate for her students. She makes available the resources for children to engage in their inquiries and guides the learning experiences so that curriculum expectations are mastered.
Projects are central to children's and teacher's learning experiences. Creativity and critical thinking skills are promoted through hands on projects that inspire discussion. Project ideas come from the children's interests and are tied into the Ontario curriculum expectations.