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Mar 7, 2003 Issue

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                                      ~ B R A I N Y - Z I N E ~

                           "Learn How to Nurture A Smarter Kid" 

        Volume #1 Issue #9   ISSN: 0219-7642   Mar 7, 2003

                   Andrew Loh, Publisher, andrew@brainy-child.com

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T A B L E  O F  C O N T E N T S : 
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(1) ~ EDITORIAL ~ 
(2) ~ ARTICLES - Reggio Emilia Approach ~
                            Kids Love the Simple Things ~
(3) ~ WHAT'S IN THE NEXT ISSUE ~
(4) ~ CONTACT US - Contact and Subscriber Information ~

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E D I T O R I A L - W e l c o m e !
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Dear Subscriber,

My two children are in pre-schools. The elder one goes to
kindergarten, the younger one goes to playgroup. Here in
my country, there are many choices of preschools where you 
choose between the varying teaching methods from the very
traditional to the very sophisticated. 

This issue of BrainyZine covers one of the world-renowned
programs on early childhood education called 'Reggio Emilia'.
The objective of this article is just to provide an introduction
to this program so that you are kept aware of such a program.
When it comes to the time to choose a pre-school, you could 
add the Reggio Emilia approach to your selection list!

[[firstname]], as I'm drafting the editorial calendar for 
second quarter of 2003. I would like to hear from you the 
type of topics that you would like to see in this newsletter
that could be useful to you and the other readers. The scope 
of the suggested topics should be within the themes of 
Brainy-Child, which are child brain development and early 
childhood development. You can mail your suggestion by 
clicking this link: mailto:andrew@brainy-child.com?subject=Topic
Hope to hear from you.

Have a good weekend!

Andrew Loh
mailto:andrew@brainy-child.com

Publisher/Editor of the BrainyZine


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A R T I C L E S
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" Reggio Emilia Approach "

Hailed as the best pre-schools in the world by Newsweek magazine in 1991, the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education has attracted the worldwide attention of educators, researchers and just about anyone interested in early childhood education best practices. Even the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)'s revised version of developmentally appropriate practices (DAP) guidelines also included examples from Reggio approach. Today,
Reggio approach has been adopted in USA, UK, New Zealand, Australia and many other countries.

Loris Malaguzzi (1920-1994) founded the ‘Reggio Emilia' approach at a city in northern Italy called Reggio Emilia. The ‘Reggio' approach was developed for municipal child-care and education programs serving
children below six. The approach requires children to be seen as competent, resourceful, curious, imaginative, inventive and possess a desire to interact and communicate with others.

The 'Reggio' vision of the child as a competent learner has produced a strong child-directed curriculum model. The curriculum has purposive progression but not scope and sequence. Teachers follow the children's interests and do not provide focused instruction in reading and
writing. Reggio approach has a strong belief that children learn through interaction with others, including parents, staff and peers in a friendly
learning environment.

Here are some key features of Reggio Emilia's early childhood program:

The role of the environment-as-teacher
- Within the Reggio Emilia schools, the educators are very concerned about what their school environments teach children. Hence, a great attention is given to the look and feel of the classroom. It is often
referring to the environment as the "third teacher"

- The aesthetic beauty within the schools is seen as an important part of respecting the child and their learning environment

- A classroom atmosphere of playfulness and joy pervades

- Teachers organize environments rich in possibilities and provocations that invite the children to undertake extended exploration and problem solving, often in small groups, where cooperation and disputation mingle pleasurably.

- Documentation of children's work, plants, and collections that children have made from former outings are displayed both at the children's and adult eye level.

- Common space available to all children in the school includes dramatic play areas and work tables for children from different classrooms to come together.

- Here is a link to view some of the environmental pictures


Children's multiple symbolic languages
- Using the arts as a symbolic language through which to express their understandings in their project work

- Consistent with Dr. Howard Gardner's notion of schooling for multiple intelligences, the Reggio approach calls for the integration of the graphic arts as tools for cognitive, linguistic, and social development.

- Presentation of concepts and hypotheses in multiple forms such as print, art, construction, drama, music, puppetry, and shadow play. These are viewed as essential to children's understanding of experience.

Documentation as assessment and advocacy
(Rather unique in Reggio approach)

- Documenting and displaying the children's project work, which is necessary for children to express, revisit, and construct and reconstruct their feelings, ideas and understandings.

- Similar to the portfolio approach, documentation of children's work in progress is viewed as an important tool in the learning process for children, teachers, and parents.

- Pictures of children engaged in experiences, their words as they discuss what they are doing, feeling and thinking, and the children's interpretation of experience through the visual media are displayed as a graphic presentation of the dynamics of learning.

- Teachers act as recorders (documenters) for the children, helping them trace and revisit their words and actions and thereby making the learning visible.

- To know more about using documentation in classroom practices in Reggio approach


Long-term projects
- Supporting and enriching children's learning through in-depth, short-term (one week) and long-term (throughout the school year) project work, in which responding, recording, playing, exploring, hypothesis building and testing, and provoking occurs.

- Projects are child-centered, following their interest, returning again and again to add new insights.

- Throughout a project, teachers help children make decisions about the direction of study, the ways in which the group will research the topic, the representational medium that will demonstrate and showcase the topic.


The teacher as researcher
- The teacher's role within the Reggio Emilia approach is complex. Working as co-teachers, the role of the teacher is first and foremost to be that of a learner alongside the children. The teacher is a
teacher-researcher, a resource and guide as she/he lends expertise to children.

- Within such a teacher-researcher role, educators carefully listen, observe, and document children's work and the growth of community in their classroom and are to provoke and stimulate thinking

- Teachers are committed to reflection about their own teaching and learning.

- Classroom teachers working in pairs and collaboration, sharing information and mentoring between personnel.


Home-school relationships
- Children, teachers, parents and community are interactive and work together. Building a community of inquiry between adults and children.

- For communication and interaction can deepen children's inquiry and theory building about the world around them

- Programs in Reggio are family centered. Loris'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.


Reggio approach is not a formal model with defined methods (such as Waldorf and Montessori), teacher certification standards and accreditation processes. But rather, the educators in Reggio Emilia speak of their evolving "experience" and see themselves as a provocation and reference point, a way of engaging in dialogue starting from a strong and rich vision of the child. In all of these settings, documentation was explored as a means of promoting parent and teacher understanding of children's learning and development.

While this article concentrate on Reggio Emilia approach on early childhood education, it did not play down on the other approaches such as Waldorf and Montessori. Each approach has its own strengths and
weaknesses as well as areas of difference.

What makes the Reggio Emilia approach stand out? In a nutshell, Reggio approach articulates children to acquire skills of critical thinking and collaboration. All preschool operators ought to benchmark against the Reggio Emilia schools. Here is the link to look for pre-school that based on Reggio approach.

This article aims to serve as an introduction to Reggio approach; you are encouraged to research more from the Internet. Alternatively, there are two recommended books on Reggio approach:

"The Hundred Languages of Children: The Reggio Emilia Approach - Advanced Reflections"
The book is a comprehensive introduction covering history and philosophy, the parent perspective, curriculum and methods of teaching, school and system organization, the use of space and physical environments, and adult professional roles including
special education

"Bringing Reggio Emilia Home"
This book is good for parents who like to have more in-depth understanding on Reggio Emilia principles and may be inspired to implement Reggio approach at home.



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" Kids Love the Simple Things "
By Sharina Smith

I once took a personality test that resulted in my classification as an Executive Mother. Despite my best efforts at being the business-like CEO at home, I have learned that my preschooler and preteen love the simple things best. Their favorite dinners are the ones where
I have not had time to cook. We eat peeled apples and cheese and buttered toast while waiting for a can of vegetable soup to heat. They love it. On the nights when I have made the time to cook a beautiful hot meal featuring the four food groups, one child says "yuck,
I'm not eating this," and the other child throws his food onto the floor with a flourish as if to say, "yuck, I'm not eating this."

Planned outings are another lesson, which I am slow to learn. Well-orchestrated trips (you know, the ones where you've packed everything for every imaginable contingency from snakebites to snicksnacks) to the zoo or to the river resort are hardly ever as appreciated by my little ones as much as they appreciate the hose.
Yes, my kids love the garden hose. A trickle of water from the garden hose entertains them for hours and I don't have to pack snacks or drinks. They drink the water then splash through the puddles to the patio table for cookies, store-bought cookies, of course. They hate the homemade ones, except for a few bites of the raw dough.

Toys are yet another thing that has puzzled me. Since first pregnant 9 years ago, I have diligently researched the latest developmentally correct playthings and agonized over each purchase. Do I really
have to buy an ugly-as-sin, expensive, black and white and red mobile for my babies' eye coordination and development, or will the adult-eye pleasing teddy bear one be okay? Will a Barbie traumatize my daughter and reduce her to a weight-obsessed clotheshorse? Should I
try not to let my son play with cars and trucks all day and try instead to nurture his sensitive side with dolls?

I am happy to report that both of my children have excellent vision after staring at teddy bears for the first five months of their lives. My daughter has used her Barbies to reenact events from the Crucifixion of
Christ to the latest episode of Arthur. The dolls have been doctors and lawyers and martyrs. They have been moms and dads and kids, no matter their given plastic gender. My daughter wants to be a doctor and own a horse ranch when she grows up. And as for my son ... whether the plaything was intended to be a motorized vehicle or not, it has been vrrrroomed through the house. He wants to be a firefighter rescue hero, Army man, and a daddy when he grows up.

I do believe it is time for me to stop worrying about what toys to buy.... I see they have forgotten the plastic food in their play kitchen and have set up shop with a variety of egg cartons and macaroni and cheese
boxes. The box that held the fire truck is the fire station. Barbie and Ken do not drive their pink plastic car anymore; they are seated for a cruise in an upside down stepstool.

After watching them play, I don't worry anymore about whether my daughter will be stigmatized by her Barbie years or whether my son will be an insensitive macho man because his favorite toys are guns and plastic green Army guys. I have witnessed the kids' affection for each other and for their animals, both the stuffed and alive variety. Our daughter and son know that their mom, their dad, an extended family, friends, and a church community love them with their best interests at heart. The simple things are what kids love. Love, shelter, food, and a chance to express their creativity are simply what kids need.


About the Author
Sharina Smith, Springfield, Missouri, USA
info@sharinasmith.com
www.sharinasmith.com
Sharina Smith is a Missouri-based writer, consultant,
teacher, mother, and singer. If you need encouragement
for the journey, email Sharina for more information
about her consulting services.


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Next issue, we will talk about creativity in young children.

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http://www.brainy-child.com/newsletter.shtml
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