Children arrive at school as individuals and then rapidly begin the process of blending into their school community…peers, teachers, other parents, many who spend time with them during their days at school. In this transition from home to school, the child experiences a renewed sense of self:self in juxtaposition to others, self as a growing, learning and changing human being in their own right. As their awareness of community grows and develops, children begin to look more deeply at themselves as they also look outward to others.
“Children do not wait for our permission to think. Indeed, children are bursting with ideas that are always impatient to escape through language (and we say a hundred languages) to connect and communicate with the things of the world.”
– Loris Malaguzzi, Founder Reggio Emilia Approach
The teaching team in the Oak room are conscious of the words of Loris Malaguzzi in his 100 Languages of Children poem, referred to above. The Oak classroom is awash in light, color, and materials which support deep exploration of shadows. In this classroom environment, children are invited to explore the mystery of light, and in doing so discover many ways to express their thinking, ideas and questions. Their materials start with simple explorations and become rich and complex as the school year unfolds. The concepts indoors are advanced to explorations outdoors with naturally occurring sunshine and shadows. Conversations become rich with scientific thinking, as they wonder aloud “how did that happen”? This is the core of the development of the Scientific method as a tool for answering the many questions about why the world is as they see and experience it.
As children represent their mental images to others, they represent them to themselves, developing a more conscious vision (interior listening). Thus, moving from one language to another, from one field of experience to another, and reflecting on these shifts and those of others, children modify and enrich their theories and conceptual maps.
But this is true if, and only if, children have the opportunity to make these shifts in a group context—that is, in and with others—and if they have the possibility to listen and be listened to, to express their differences and be receptive to the differences of others.
The focus work in the Sequoia classroom is centered around building, construction, and engineering concepts. The classroom is equipped with materials to support collaborative planning with construction materials, along with plenty of space to allow them to test their theories of how to ‘make things work’. Balance, weight, ramping, angles, trajectory, material choices, woodworking, connections, etc. all support strong communicative language as well as mathematical constructs and scientific thinking. Sketching/drawing of ideas is encouraged to allow visions to move toward realities, thus strengthening small motor and writing skills.
As stated by Carlina Rinaldi, a pedagogical leader in the schools of Reggio Emilia, Italy:
“Children are born searching for the meaning of life, the meaning of the self in relation to others and to the world, the meaning of their existence…Inside the dinosaur drama play, underneath the game about a family of kittens…children are researching questions that compel them.”
Cypress teaching staff provision the classroom with rich materials meant to stimulate collaborative thinking and play. Here you will find rich literacy materials and writing centers, small world pretend play and opportunities to develop ideas together about that which is intriguing to them. As the school year unfolds, these ideas become more complex and the stories that accompany them are many.