Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Beautiful Colors of Autumn

It seems that summer just began and yet here we are welcoming Autumn, the season of beautiful colors.
It is always an exciting time at Reggio Kids as we clear the garden beds, pick the final vegetables and herbs, and watch as our pumpkins plump themselves up for carving.

The light table provides a perfect canvas to create the setting from a favorite Autumn Tale.







Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Road Ahead

The Road Ahead

As Reggio Kids approaches its 14th birthday, I can't help but reflect on our remarkable journey.
We have seen hundreds of children grow through our schools, shared extraordinary learning stories, forged authentic relationships and embedded ourselves in the community.
We have helped to raise future generations.
What will their calling be; lawyer, doctor, scientist, business owner, engineer, artist, dancer...
 We know we have contributed in some small measure to their life journey.
Our commitment was not to fill their cups with facts but to support habits of mind that would remain with them forever.
We thank them all and bless them on their paths.

We will continue our work seeking to better our understanding of the world of childhood, remaining the place where they can tinker, discover, marvel and wonder!

What will the future bring Reggio Kids?
It is in the unknown that new discoveries are made!

We are currently in the process of designing a place where children can tinker, negotiate and invent with a vast collection of loose parts from all over the world!

Thank you to the educators who shared and continue to share our vision and in particular a heartfelt thank you to the three women who have been with us since the beginning, Rosa, Sabrina, and Mary-the best tinkers of all!
Your contributions to our schools have been and continue to be immeasurable!
Each day brings new possibles, discoveries, discourse, and collaboration.



Wednesday, September 14, 2016

No Toys!


Several months ago I challenged the teachers to remove conventional toys from their classrooms in order to move the children to new levels of thinking and working with loose parts.
There are not many toys in our classrooms to begin with and the ones that we do select are as open ended as possible. In any case I thought it would be a worthy exploration.
It's important to note that this was not a new challenge just one that was revisited.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Friends for Life

Children have a great capacity to form meaningful relationships. 
What draws certain children together, some from the moment they meet?
It can begin with a physical attraction and a sense of familiarity. 
Over time the act of sharing common experience on a daily basis solidifies the bond.
Although the memory of these friends fades with time, the lessons they learned continues:
To trust in others.
To be kind.
To share.
To be joyful.
To be mindful.
To do good for the betterment of everyone in the group.
This year we bid farewell to many of our students and they bid farewell to many of the friends who shared their five year journey.
This young girl left a tribute to two of her dearest friends.

May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
And rains fall soft upon your fields,
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.
Irish Proverb









Friday, September 2, 2016

The Wedding Cake

Children have ears on everything so be mindful of what you say when you are in a classroom.
Although sometimes wonderful things may happen.

Several weeks ago this group of girls waited for me to arrive at school to share this surprise with me.

My cell phone rang, 
"Come downstairs, the children have something to show you," the teacher said.
These types of calls are frequent and never ignored or put on hold until later.
"I'm on way!"
Four little girls waited anxiously at the foot of the staircase for me.
They pulled me into the room.
"Look what we made. It's a wedding cake for Matthew and Mia!"
Matthew is my son who is getting married next September.
"How did you know he was getting married," 
I asked certain that I had not yet shared the news with the children.
"I heard you talking about it when we were having lunch last time," replied Olivia.
Needless to say I was moved by their thoughtfulness.

The photos below speak to the amount of attention given to detail, the patience in execution and the intentional patterns used.

















Friday, August 5, 2016

Have Faith

A few weeks ago I stepped into one of my preschool classrooms and I happened upon a child working on an elaborate structure using loose parts. Not an uncommon sight in the school. However this particular one stopped me because it was not only beautiful to look at but it was precise in its execution and it led me to wonder, did the child actually do it on her own? Not that I didn't  think she was capable, I was just concerned that the teacher support may have been too heavy. 
This would not have been acceptable as it would have limited the child's ability to solve the problems she may have encountered in the design process.







I stopped and observed her work as she erected two additional structures.
The results were the same-her level of thinking was extraordinary.




 We should always have faith in the capabilities of young children especially when they live in a space where loose parts are ingrained in the school culture!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Potential



~Potential is lost in the absence of effort and passion.
I'm not sure where I came across this powerful piece of insight, but it hits home in so many ways.

Imagine the world without Michelangelo, Dante, Pasteur...
What if they'd chosen to squander their talents because they couldn't be bothered to research, invent and create.

How many of us attack each day with a desire to do our best and be our best? 
I know, it's exhausting to exist in this state but so well worth it. It is here that greatness is born-most often not the greatness of the masters but the greatness found in the ordinary moments of living in a school that is filled with passion by all those who inhabit it.

Children are born with this type of passion; the need to know all, be all and do all.
It is when they encounter apathetic teachers and adults that they lose their potential.
I speak of
the teachers who arrive each day content with mediocrity.
The teachers who forget to read, research, and investigate in order to expand their minds and give the children the best of themselves.
The teachers who watch the clock, forget to say good morning to lift a child's spirits.
The type of teachers who are not present and in the moment.
The type of teachers who are not invested in the art of negotiated learning.
The type of teachers who do not stay after their students are gone to attend to the environment, reflect on the children's work and prepare for the next day.
These are the teachers who lack passion and so their potential is lost and so too is the potential of their students.

Let us consider an alternative.
 I offer the the teacher who arrives well before her shift begins to prepare for her day with the children which will surely bring a multitude of new adventures and possibilities. Along the way to her classroom she stops to greet a few of her coworkers. Her passion has inspired them to arrive early as well. They notice the bag she is clutching. The school is quiet. It's only 6:30 a.m.
She has a mischievous smile on her face because the bag she carries holds a new supply of loose parts that she discovered at the nursery the night before. She already imagines what the children might do with them. This is not an uncommon practice for her. She is always in search of new materials for her classroom.
She opens the door and pauses for a moment happy to take in the wonder of learning.
She sets down her treasures and flicks on the computer eager to review the photos and documentation of yesterday's experiences.
She prints them to share with the children during morning discussion.
Students begin arriving with their parents in tow. They are full of questions about yesterday's discoveries and she is more than happy to share in their joy.
In the blink of an eye
the day ends with not enough time to catch each smile, each heartbeat, each new discovery. 
But she is content. She gave it her best and expected no less from the children. They in turn gave her their best knowing that she was her best and together they lived the day to their full potential.

What type of teacher are you-share your wonder!







Friday, June 24, 2016

Tutti-All of Us

Tutti
What a great Italian word. All of us!
We are the sum of all our shared experiences and memories, the very things that define us, not only as people but as a school community.
The children, families and teachers, present and past, have been part our journey. We live like every moment counts creating context for our notebook.

We are tutti inseme-all together
Tutti uniti-all united
Tutti una famiglia-all one family

No matter where life leads us we will always remember tutti-all those who have lived in our spaces.

Monday, June 20, 2016

A Conversation with Loose Parts

I call it a conversation because teachers and children are in a constant state of exchange and interaction with loose parts. Without these two elements the materials are simply stagnate objects.
When loose parts are selected and organized in an inviting and thought provoking manner they have the power to entice children to explore, think, engage, create, exchange ideas, communicate, problem solve and scaffold learning.


Sunday, June 19, 2016

Exploring Loose Parts

There are stages in the evolution of loose parts-much like blocks, drawing and clay-children begin by exploring them with their senses, testing their properties, and piling before we see the emergence of representations.

Friday, June 17, 2016

We Begin with Drawings


There are many ways for children to represent their thinking, tell us their stories and share their ideas.
Our children find great joy in giving their drawings dimension using loose materials.