First, and foremost, what does my title mean? What is a “pedagogista?” you might ask.
At Atelier Kids Early Learning and Care, we are Toronto’s only dedicated Reggio Emilia-inspired childcare centre where we adhere to the belief that all children are born creative, intuitive, and resourceful and have a strong potential for development from a very young age. We believe that great communication, authentic relationships, and the right physical environment lead to happy, confident learners.
The role of a pedagogista, or educational leader, is to support and collaborate with teachers in their daily work with children, their families, and the community. The pedagogista does this by working closely with teachers to observe, document, analyse, and interpret the rights and needs of each child and family, and to then use this knowledge to plan and project responsive learning experiences with children.
Listening is central to all that is Reggio-inspired. We believe wholeheartedly that children are capable, curious citizens who have much to offer our world. Often more than adults, children naturally search for meaning in their world every day: “Why do the leaves change colours?”, “Why do they fall to the ground?”, “Why are there so many different ones?”, “Why does the wind blow them?”, “Where do they go”?
In Reggio, we encourage children to ask their many questions, and we use many approaches to authentically listen to them.
We can begin by observing the “hundred languages” of children because listening is more than hearing: it is paying attention to them, sitting quietly with them, exploring materials alongside them, experiencing nature through their eyes. It involves all of our senses: How does a child’s body move? Does their voice change? What emotion are they exhibiting?
Another way to listen is to give children time to genuinely interact with their environment and their peers. When time is fluid, when the time is unhindered by strict, choppy schedules, there is time for all to listen.
When children are old enough to speak their ideas, we must encourage children to share their ideas amongst themselves, allow them to co-create theories and then hold ourselves back from “correcting” or “teaching” them. We must provide them with opportunities to test their ideas, to build upon them and explore continually evolving theories.
When we authentically listen to children, we as adults are drawn to listen to ourselves: How are we communicating? What voice and what actions are we sending out to the little people in our lives? Are we exhibiting curiosity alongside them, demonstrating that we are also learners? At Atelier Kids we intend to move beyond the traditional approach to early years care: themes and lessons are often the same in centres across the city. We intend to listen to your children, to their interests and questions, to their ideas about the world around them. We will take these genuine starting points and begin our journey of learning.
Our childcare centre is the only one of its kind in Toronto. If you would like to help your child become a curious, capable, and creative learner who will be ready for the future, then take the time to get to know us.
And if you have any questions, we are always here to listen.
Resources for further exploration:
The Pedagogy of Listening, Marina Rinaldi, in The Hundred Languages of Children
By Alison Randall of Atelier Kids
Pedagogista | Educational Leader