Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Could a new Italian approach change the way American Schools do Pre-School? Highland Educators visit overseas

A story from the Spinal Column by Ali Armstrong summerizes an approach by Italian preschool educators who believe building connections with students by visiting how they think in their developing world is the key to building to building strong learners. Her story talks about how Building Blocks preschool is sending teachers to learn this Italian method at the school that started it all.

Highland Educators To Tour Italian Education Facilities Next Month

Suzanne Gabli, owner and executive director of Building Blocks
Preschool in Highland, and Jennifer Young, a lead preschool teacher, are raising funds to participate in a July study tour of Reggio Emilia, Italy’s infant-toddler centers and preschools.
“Pinch us because that’s how we feel. It’s always been a dream,” Gabli said. “When the opportunity presented itself two years ago we were going ‘how are we going to afford to go?’ We’re making a plan. You just have to plan ahead and we’ll be able to make it happen.”
For the first time ever, Central Michigan University has opened its study tour to Reggio Emilia to the Educators of Michigan Inspirations Reggio Study group, of which Building Blocks Preschool has been one of the founding Steering Committee members since 2011.
The city of Reggio Emilia in Italy is recognized worldwide for its innovative approach to education. In this approach, there is a belief that children have rights and should be given opportunities to develop their potential.
The Reggio Emilia philosophy is based upon the following set of principals: children must have some control over the direction of their learning; children must be able to learn through experiences of touching, moving, listening, seeing and hearing; and children must have endless ways and opportunities to express themselves.
“A classroom example that comes to mind is when a little girl was painting a green snake on her paper … and she took the green paint and covered up her snake,” Young said. “She told me that she remembered that the snake liked to be in the grass, so she painted the grass. To so many parents it may seem like a green blob on a piece of paper, but when you take the time to ask them their story you make the connection.”
Building Blocks is one of 1,000 U.S. schools practicing the Reggio philosophy. It’s something teachers at the school have been studying for years.
Three years ago the school hosted a two-day workshop with Julianne Wurm, a U.S. teacher who worked as a translator in Reggio and author of “Working in the Reggio Way: A Beginner’s Guide for American Teachers.”

To read the rest of Ali's article, click below