What is Reggio Emilia?
The Reggio Emilia philosophy is an educational approach founded by Loris Malaguzzi in Reggio Emilia, Italy, developed after World War 2. This innovative approach to teaching is rooted in the belief that children speak ‘one hundred or more languages’, and that children have the right to as many opportunities as possible to develop their potential. It puts the importance of strong relationships at the center of its philosophy. We choose to embody this philosophy in our every day curriculum.
The Reggio Emilia philosophy is based on the following set of principles:
Children must have some control over the direction of their learning
Children must be able to learn through experiences of touching, moving, listening, and observing;
Children have a relationship with other children and with material items in the world that children must be allowed to explore;
Children must have endless ways and opportunities to express themselves.
The Role of the Teacher
Educators at Aspen Lakes Discovery Center are not only ‘teachers’! They serve as collaborators, co-learners, observers, and role models. (And professional players)! Staff provoke thought and enquiry by asking questions and actively engaging in the activities that they plan based on the children’s interests. Instead of planning the activity and watching it play out, the educator is in the heart of the activity, mutually participating with the children and learning alongside them, watching for cues of new interests or skills to build on, while asking questions and making comments that inspire wonder, imagination, and creativity. Children are invited to be major players in the planning of their own education. All of our staff are educated in Early Learning and Childcare, and partake in ongoing learning. All staff have valid First Aid and current criminal record checks.
The Role of The Environment
The environment, in programs of Reggio Emilia, Italy, is often referred to as ‘The Third Teacher’. It is our goal to provide an environment that is calm, comforting, and natural, without overstimulating lights or colors. We try our best to stay away from unnatural materials and plastic as best we can. Our rooms are a reflection of the children taught in them, with awareness of how time, space, materials, and participation are influential elements in children's learning and citizenship. Air quality improving plants will be found throughout the center and children are encouraged to touch, smell, and explore them all they want. Developmentally appropriate toys and materials are in every room and at child’s level.
Aspen Lakes Discovery Center brings nature inside with a variety of materials from the outdoors. Loose parts (items that can be interpreted in many different ways) are found in all rooms and allow children to use their imagination to guide their learning. Weather permitting, children and educators are encouraged to spend the majority of their learning time outdoors. We have an 1100 sqft outdoor area with grand landscaping plans for the future. Children will learn gardening, composting, and caring for the environment in this area! We also have parks in our proximity that we visit often.
The Role of the Parent
A child’s family is his/her first real compass in life. Families know their children in ways no one else can. This is why we HIGHLY encourage parent participation in our classrooms. We seek to gain knowledge and appreciation of family, social, and cultural practices and traditions. We work together with families to have a shared understanding of decisions made on behalf of the children and ask parents to openly communicate with staff as often as possible. We practice honour, respect, and appreciation of the significance of family in the life of each child. Communication is cooperative and collaborative. We invite parents and families to be a part of our curriculum planning and classroom.
We Believe All Parents Have 3 Basic Rights:
The right to feel safe: that their child is being cared for
The right to feel that they belong to their child’s educational community
The right to feel they are honoured for who they are and who they are not
We follow the Early Learning and Child Care Curriculum Framework For Alberta when connecting curriculum to activities in our rooms. Rooms are taught in themes based solely off of observations of the children. Children are active participants in the planning of their activities and experiences, are encouraged to share their ideas, dreams, and questions to provoke learning. Much of our -teaching- is done throughout the day in in-the-moment learning experiences, building off of children's ideas through observation, careful planning, and thoughtful reflection afterwards. We display learning stories to connect parents to their children's natural disposition to learn.