Reggio Emilia

Workshops presenting ideas from Reggio Emilia

For people who teach children ages 2-7

The Image of the Child: Strong, Powerful, Competent & Rich in Ideas

Reggio Emilia thinking is based upon an Image of the Child as strong, powerful, competent and rich in ideas, seeking information about the world and joy in experience.  If, as has happened traditionally in schools, we envision our work as putting information into empty, cute, children, we teachers can burn out quickly.  The way Reggio Emilia people look at children helps adults see and hear clearly the rich material children bring with them. Based upon what they have seen and heard, help the children by providing resources and teaching skills that allow the children to achieve goals that they imagine.

In this workshop I will show examples of this exciting kind of teaching and learning.  We will talk about ways of being with children that respect and make visible the richness of the ideas children bring with them to our programs.

I will offer some insight into which practices from Reggio are good to bring into US classrooms, and why.  This workshop is an inoculation against burnout for teachers looking for new concepts and challenges.

The Documentation Process

Why document?

What do we choose to observe and record?  Why? What do we do with the result of our observation, recording and collaborative examination of what we found?

How do we find time to document?

Does our understanding and respect for children grow through  documentation?

Does our documentation process help children?

What makes documentation easy?  What makes it difficult?

We will look closely at some examples of documentation, and see if it makes a difference.

In my experience, people who document regularly for three months continue to document because they like the increase in the quality of interactions and work in their classroom.

What in the World is Agency? Preserving young children’s power

After 40 years or so of studying Reggio Emilia practice, I found the word agency creeping into what I read and respected.  Children are born with agency, and lose a great deal of it in early childhood.  We’ll discuss this precious disposition, and consider why and how we can support it in our classrooms and in our homes.  I will bring video to help ground the discussion.

The Arts keep us in Balance

The “Hundred Languages of Children” as they are called in Reggio Emilia, are what children use to express themselves.  The more of these modalities the child feels capable of, the better she or he expressed what is important and interesting to herself or himself.

As a child becomes skilled at manipulating the paint brush or clay, at singing songs and tapping rhythms, at collage or woodworking, he or she can use these ways to represent the world.

This is especially true of work with clay, the ethnic material of our species.  Clay can be changed and changed again, even by a tiny child, and so the form it takes represents one’s ability to make a difference in the world.

This workshop is best when the participants are working with clay as the discussion goes on.

Participants will leave the workshop with handouts or links that support daily work in the arts, and go into the importance for children of having arts skills available and developed, to use every day and especially to use when there are hard things to live through.

Adults & Children Making Stories -Based on the work of Gianni Rodari

The human mind likes to make connections between ideas.  We have a strong urge to see these connections even when we are very little.  Gianni Rodari, an Italian newspaperman, visited Reggio Emilia (1971) to give a series of lectures, which became his book, The Grammar of Fantasy translated into English (1996) by Jack Zipes.  In this workshop the teacher of young children the elements that make a good story and learns how to give them to children, who, the next day, take them and run with them, just as naturally as using blocks for building.

Participants will make stories (it’s much easier than one expects, when prompted well) and think about how they can transfer their experience to children.

This work is powerful and as easy to implement. The children will immediately make stories out of the stories they already know, just as music is made of the notes we already know.

It’s amazing, it’s easy, it’s practical, it’s liberating, it’s fun.  It also makes a great workshop for parents of young children.  Participants in the workshop will leave able to help children (or anyone!) make up their own stories the very next day.

Emergent Curriculum in our Classrooms: Children Bring their own Agendas

How can we find out what interests each child and make that child a special time or place or plan in the classroom to explore what interests them most?

Can we afford to plan the whole day, or the year, in advance or should children’s ideas help us make our decisions about what we will do?  Why does this matter?  Can we do this without exhausting ourselves?  Why bother?  What are the important intentions of curriculum anyway?

We all went to schools where the teacher planned for us, and if we were lucky, what they planned was interesting, and if we weren’t, it was boring.  Emergent curriculum (especially emergent curriculum for atypical young children) is based on the view that we waste our time and the children’s if we bore them.

What do the terms “emergent curriculum” and “negotiated curriculum” imply?  How can we figure out what interests which child?  How can we provide for different children?  Is it hard?

In Reggio Emilia, curriculum is planned by adults, but they assess their plans before implementing them, and they often find themselves revising what they’ve designed in response to the children’s conversations.  Thus, a fall project planned to be about The Beach  was converted to a remarkable project on Crowds  as the result of teachers listening to tapes of children responding to questions about their summer experiences at the beach.

Please invite participants to come prepared to tell the group very specific information or stories about their curriculum flops and triumphs, so we can examine these stories for clues as to what worked and what didn’t.  We can only help children when we can “read” their behavior clearly.

This session will help participants learn how.