The Nook will be using a combination of The Creative Curriculum and The Reggio Emilia Approach. A combination of these two Early Childhood theories is very beneficial to our little explorers.
The Reggio Emilia Approach originated in the town Reggio Emilia in Italy out of a movement toward progressive and cooperative early childhood education. The Reggio approach is all about individualism, therefore no two Reggio inspired classrooms or centers will look the same. This style is based off the needs and interests of the children at that time. The lessons are planned off the children’s interests to further their knowledge of that topic. For example, if the class, a group of children, or even a single child is interested in something such as cars, the teacher will elaborate on that interest and plan her lessons around that. They may do car counting games, maybe mold a car out of play-dough, talk about who drives a car and other types of vehicles, and even make their own! With the Reggio inspired classrooms, the teachers act as a guide and resource for the children. The children are encouraged to work in groups but are recognized for their individual thoughts and ideas. The teacher is not the giver of knowledge but a guide and mediator for the students.
Throughout the center, you will see many forms of documentation. Documentation of the children’s work could be a photograph, transcripts of children’s thoughts and explanations, a drawing or painting; all serves the purpose to outline the child’s learning process. One big staple of the Reggio Emilia approach is The Hundred Languages of Children; meaning that children use many methods to show their understanding and express their opinions and creativity. Children can express their learning and understanding through dramatic play, art, building with blocks, dance, etc. These are all part of the child, therefore we stress that learning and play are not separate but are congruent. The Reggio approach allows the child to learn through hands-on experience and permits the children to draw their own conclusions by using their 5 senses and different languages to discover.
The Creative Curriculum stresses the importance of stepping back and letting them explore on their own. Art projects are open ended, meaning the materials will be provided but the child is allowed to make their project however they wish. Obviously supervision is a given with projects, but the teacher addresses that there is no wrong or right way to do a certain project. With these open-ended projects, the children express how they perceive the world while mastering their motor skills. In the Toddler and Tikes Rooms, the children will be introduced to real materials and not just kid-friendly ones. By doing this, you teach them how to do a certain task using the actual item. When something new is brought out such as glass dishes, the children are taught that they cannot drop them and have to be careful. It is also explained to them that if an item does break, it’s ok. They are required to help clean it up and the teacher in a calm and understanding tone, explains to the child as to why it happened and why he or she needs to be more careful next time. They will never be made to feel bad about an accident. It gives the children a sense of responsibility while still being closely monitored by their teacher.
The Creative Curriculum fits perfectly with the Reggio Emilia Approach. The Creative Curriculum with infants and toddlers focuses on the individual child. With this young age group, the three main focuses are social-emotional development, physical development, and language development. Social-emotional development is crucial in the first 3 years of life. With the loving care from our staff, the children learn to trust their caregivers and know that their basic needs will be met. With the appropriate activities, the children will learn about themselves through their own body movements and senses. As for physical development, children will be provided with the proper environment and tools to aid their physical development in mastering the milestones when the individual child is ready. Finally, language development in Creative Curriculum is demonstrated and learned by talking to the child about the things you are doing such as changing a diaper. Talking to the child out loud as to what you are doing is one of those perfect ‘teachable moments’ to have one on one time with that child. With repetition, the babies will start to respond by lifting their leg at the appropriate time or even something so simple as laying still. Having that constant language exposure helps the child pick it up faster and you will be able to see it. The Nook will also be using sign language to communicate with the babies. Using simple signs, especially at meal times, such as ‘more’, ‘please’, and ‘all done’ help the child begin to understand the means of communication even when they do not yet have the verbal skills to tell us what they are feeling. With the toddlers, many books will be read, educational posters throughout, and the strong communication between the teachers and the children will aid in this development.
The Nook strives to combine these two curriculums while keeping the individualism of each child. With this unique curriculum, we can raise well-rounded and well-adjusted children ready for the real world!