Early Childhood Education: Constructive Learning Environments

Scottsdale, AZ | Submitted by Sabrina Ball

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There is much about Reggio Emilia approach that distinguishes it from other efforts to define best practices in early childhood education. Much of the worldwide attention has been on the programs emphasis on children’s’ symbolic languages lovingly referred to as The Hundred Languages of Children. Symbolic languages are the many ways children express their own knowledge and desires through art work, conversation, dramatic play, music, dance and more.

Relationships are at the very heart, the cornerstone, of the Reggio Emilia philosophy. They describe an environment that encircles the child with the “three teachers” or protagonists. The parent is the first teacher – as the parent takes on the role of partner and guide in the education of their child. The classroom teacher is the second teacher – taking on the role of researcher often working in pairs as they intentionally engage children in meaningful work and conversations. Lastly, the environment is the third teacher – the environment is designed to not only be functional and beautiful but reflective of the child’s learning. It is these relationships of parent, teacher and environment that ignite learning. Cognitive development takes place in the context of the child’s relationships with others. Children construct their own knowledge through a carefully planned curriculum that engages and builds upon the child’s current knowledge; recognizing that knowledge cannot simply be provided for the child. When learning is the product of the child’s guided construction rather than simply the teacher’s transmission and the child’s absorption, learning becomes individualized. Most importantly, teaching becomes a two-way relationship in which the teacher’s understanding of the child is just as important as the child’s understanding of the teacher.

Pinnacle Presbyterian Preschool

Located in Scottsdale Arizona, Pinnacle Presbyterian Preschool is committed to offering an educational program based upon best practices in child development and education. Accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and inspired by the schools of Reggio Emilia, the community is dedicated to enriching the lives of preschool children and their families. Through hands on, open ended activities using clay materials, wire, painting, woodworking and a mosaic of writing and drawing materials, teachers bring learning to life. Collaboration among home, school and community is considered valuable and necessary to the whole educational experience. Through investigative work, children are encouraged to dialogue, critique, compare, negotiate, hypothesize and problem solve. Through exploration and play we strive to develop the child’s learning processes – to foster in our students the ability to become talented life-long learners.

Pinnacle Educator Workshops

Each spring, Pinnacle provides an Educator Conference and Shadow Days, allowing educators to observe our learning environments and participate in a Saturday conference with a well-known early childhood educator. This award will provide 10 scholarships for Arizona teachers serving at risk communities at the 2013 or 2014 Educators Conference. Please visit our website to learn more about Pinnacle Educator Workshops: http://www.pinnaclepres.org/educators-workshops/

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