BellaVita uses an emergent, play-based and reflective Reggio Emilia inspired curriculum. We offer our children the freedom to express their interests and use them as vehicles for learning and planning. In addition, we emphasize our connection to the earth and our individual culture and values. The result is a flexible environment that meets the needs of our community. All of our children, teachers, parents, community members contribute to the richness and variety of the curriculum texture each year.
The Reggio Emilia Approach to Education focuses on relationships and creating a community culture. Loris Malaguzzi was responsible for much of the inspiration behind the Reggio Emilia Approach to education. Malaguzzi’s “vision of an "education based on relationships" focuses on each child in relation to others and seeks to activate and support children's reciprocal relationships with other children, family, teachers, society, and the environment (Malaguzzi, 1993).” (Edwards 2002) Now we can envision a culture built on relationships of mutual respect and understanding. That is how we create a socially competent school culture in partnership not only with parents, but students, teachers and other influential community members as well.
Work sampling provides an avenue for children to view their accomplishments as well as cultivate a sense of pride and achievement. Parents, students, and teachers can view their child’s individual profile to admire their accomplishments. Allowing children to create items with meaning for their portfolio help them to take ownership of their learning. Student journals create a venue for children to document their learning, plan for the day, and reflect on their experiences. Adding visual cues such as pictures to a child’s journal allows them to expand their thoughts and reflect on past experiences. A visual timeline of their lives instills mathematical concepts, documenting their language builds literacy skills, children’s illustrations and written words promote fine motor skills.
Children can gain the basic skills they need to succeed in any kindergarten environment and actively participate in their own learning. Children that learn to think critically, evaluate their own performance, reflect on their learning, and form lasting and meaningful relationships have attained the basics of what they will need to succeed for the rest of their lives. Cognitive skills, literacy, basic math, fine and gross motor skills can be built into any activity or academic pursuit of their choice. When following the Reggio Emilia Approach “teachers follow the children's interests and do not provide focused instruction in reading and writing; however, they foster emergent literacy as children record and manipulate their ideas and communicate with others. The curriculum has purposive progression.” (Edwards 2002)
Using the benchmarks of early childhood development, pre-planned activities are designed to build on the strengths of existing skills to master new, more complex skills and in turn, the responsibility, and self-esteem of the learner.
Successful social interaction is a life skill that will serve children well as they enter bigger schools. Interacting positively with others, while maintaining high self-esteem, is an extremely important skill. Part of our job is to help instill this as much as possible. Simple activities such as walking to the park together can be a great social learning experience for children. They are encouraged to look out for one another (everyone has a buddy), take turns (everybody gets to jump over that mossy rock), follow directions (turn right when we get to the end of this sidewalk), learn about traffic and how people in cars follow signs and rules to stay safe, and so on.
The world is our classroom and love is the lesson!
Edwards C. (2002) Three Approaches from Europe: Waldorf, Montessori, and Reggio Emilia. Early Childhood Research and Practice. (Vol. 4 Number 1) Retrieved on July 21, 2012 from: http://ecrp.uiuc.edu/v4n1/edwards.html Edwards C. (2002) Three Approaches from Europe: Waldorf, Montessori, and Reggio Emilia. Early Childhood Research and Practice. (Vol. 4 Number 1) Retrieved on July 21, 2012 from: http://ecrp.uiuc.edu/v4n1/edwards.html (Citing: Malaguzzi, Loris. (1993). For an education based on relationships. Young Children, 49(1), 9-12. EJ 474 755.)