March Break Daycare Adventures in Reggio Emilia, Italy

March Breaka much-needed time for pause as we eagerly await warmer weather and sunny skies in Toronto.  Spring is tempting us around every corner, but as our Toronto weather can be unpredictable, many of us head out for some sun and a change of pace. Atelier Kids Early Learning and Care, in Toronto’s west end, did much the same this March Break as our staff just returned from Northern Italy.

After a week-long study tour at the Loris Malaguzzi International Centre in Reggio Emilia, we return with excitement and deeper layers of understanding of the Reggio-inspired Approach and how we can use this understanding to improve our program.  We visited many schools, where we were able to see first-hand how children are regarded, classrooms are designed, and the teacher-child relationship is articulated through inquiry, collaboration, and a respectful kindness and caring for each classroom member, including the educators and families.

We are incredibly motivated to share our knowledge with you and to map out the philosophy we continue to develop at Atelier Kids as we prepare for our opening in Fall 2018.  As you can appreciate, with the study of any philosophy, we could speak for days in an attempt to share the nuances of the theories practiced and applied, but we want to instead share with you the three most salient points we came away with and how they most directly apply to you, the families who are enrolling at Atelier Kids.

Over the next few blogs we will share a deeper review of these key Reggio influences:

1) The Image of the Child   

We believe each child is born creative, intuitive, resourceful, and has a strong potential for development from a very young age. Here at Atelier Kids daycare in Toronto, our program is tailored to the interests of each individual child, and how each child learns.  We believe that great communication, authentic relationships, and the right physical environment lead to happy, confident learners.

“It’s necessary that we believe that the child is very intelligent, that the child is strong and beautiful and has very ambitious desires and requests. This is the image of the child that we need to hold. Those who have the image of the child as fragile, incomplete, weak, made of glass gain something from this belief only for themselves. We don’t need that as an image of children”.      — Loris Malaguzzi

2) The Environment as the Third Teacher   

What does this mean for your child? Everything about our school is deliberate. Natural and quality materials, lack of clutter and light-filled rooms create a relaxed place where children feel at ease in putting their own unique stamp on their surroundings. Through conscious use of space, colour, natural light, displays of children’s work, and attention to nature and detail, the environment serves as a valued teacher. The space is an invitation to enter and participate and becomes an experiential museum for the children.  

3) How will a Reggio-inspired Early Learning Centre like Atelier Kids Help Bridge my Child’s Transition into Ontario’s Kindergarten Curriculum?   

The goal to support a continuum of learning in Ontario from childcare to kindergarten to elementary years is clearly defined through a few key publications created by the Ministry of Education.  A brief review of the Ministry of Education’s resource: How Does Learning Happen? Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years reflects and references Reggio-inspired learning, with notations from Reggio pioneers and academics such as Malaguzzi, Rinaldi, Gandini & Kaminsky.  

The vision to “understand children as competent, curious, capable of complex thinking, rich in potential” is presented and visually illustrated throughout using the key Reggio terms, such as learning through exploration, play and inquiry; educators as co-learners; environment as third teacher; and pedagogical documentation.  Atelier Kids is proud to be a valued aspect of this continuum that has been set forth by the Ministry of Education and the Child Care & Early Years Act, and we could not be more encouraged that schools all over Ontario are adopting these foundations for learning and development.

So as we continue to review our time in Reggio Emilia, Italy through these blogs, we hope to provide you with added insight into the learning approach we excitedly prepare for as we build Atelier Kids daycare in Toronto’s High Park.  You’ll see how your child will be regarded as a valued member of our community, where their classroom has been carefully appointed to their needs and how their early years care and education will set the groundwork for their continuum of learning and development throughout their early years within the Ministry of Education framework that has been developed.

Atelier Kids Childcare Centre in Toronto welcomes you to follow us on social media to see some of the sights of Reggio Emilia, and we welcome your questions and feedback.  Coming soon, in the early summer months, we begin our “hard hat tours” of the daycare centre as construction continues to progress.  We can’t wait for you to see it all coming together!