Reggio-Inspired Kindergarten: Image of the Child

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Summer learning included a week long stay in Ontario, Canada where I attended the Transform Ed Workshop Series, given by Joanne Babalis.  There she shared her experiences with a Reggio-Inspired Approach to learning and her Masters' research on the seven layers of Inquiry-Based learning.

The first layer, and the focus of this post, is the image of the child. Following blog posts will discuss the other layers that include time, space, materials, listening, documenting and planning.

What You Believe About Children

The very first, most essential step in embracing a Reggio-inspired approach to learning, is to define your image of the child.

Your beliefs about children, both consciously or unconsciously, affect everything you do in your classroom, including how you set up your space, what your schedule looks like, what materials you use, and how you document student learning.

Most importantly, it impacts your relationships and day-to-day interactions with children and how they come to view themselves as learners.

examining your teaching beliefs and how they impact learning
 
For example, if you believe that children are not capable of being independent, then you will probably establish an environment with more teacher control and less freedom for children.

Yet, if you believe that children are capable of making their own decisions, you might provide choices of where children might sit, play, and learn.

Aligning Your Beliefs

A few years back, I had the privilege of sitting in on a conversation between author Bruce Coville and some students at my church. He was asked to talk with them about his spiritual beliefs. 

He told the children, “When what you believe and what you do are one in the same -  you are at your very best.”

kindergarten children given choices about learning materials and how to use them

As I reflect upon my own image of the child I can see that there is sometimes a gap between what I believe and what I do in the classroom.  

The fancy word for this is "cognitive dissonance."

While I might tell you that I believe in a child’s ability to choose, I can see that my practices tell a different story, as I am still making many decisions for them.

Examining My Own Beliefs

In order to bridge that gap, I needed to get real clear about my own beliefs before beginning the new school year.

I found myself struggling to find the right words and thought it might be helpful to find a photo or illustration to work from.

I chose this one by illustrator Julia Woolf.   

finding an image to match your teaching beliefs
    
When I look at this, I see children who are playful, joyful, curious, free, and creative. They are full of wonder and I’ll bet if I could talk to these children, they would have plenty to say!

What is your image of the child and how well does it match what you are currently doing in your classroom?

Update

This post was one of the first that I wrote for Roots & Wings.  The above illustration has continued to guide me in my teaching journey and is now the main heading on my site.

While writing down your beliefs can be helpful, I highly suggest looking for a visual. A picture really is worth a thousand words.

Hang this picture in your classroom or make it the cover of your planning binder to remind and inspire you daily.


Thanks for stopping by!

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