The Roots & Wings curriculum is inspired by the highly regarded philosophy of the schools in the Reggio Emilia region of Italy. This innovative approach values the child as strong, capable and resilient; rich with wonder and knowledge. All children bring with them deep curiosity and potential. This innate curiosity drives their interest to understand their world and their place within it. The key principles of the Reggio approach are as follows:
1. Expressive Arts: This is probably one of the most well-known aspects of the Reggio Emilia approach which starts from the idea that children use many different methods to express their thoughts, creativity, and understanding. These different ways of exploring, thinking, and learning are expressed through pretend-play, drawing, music, dance, movement, sculpture, painting, and drama.
2. The Environment is the Third Teacher: The classroom environment is recognized for its potential to inspire children. Classrooms are designed with natural light, order and beauty. Ever corner is ever-evolving to encourage children to delve deeper into their interests. The physical space encourages exploration, communication, and collaboration. Children are viewed as capable by providing them with authentic materials and tools.
3. Documenting Children’s Thoughts: Documentation provides a window into each child’s learning and their progression of thinking through visual representations (drawings, sculptures), photographs, video, and transcripts from conversations. Documentation focuses on the experiences that children are involved in and the skills they are acquiring through these experiences. Through the learning records, teachers can assess the children's learning and develop the curriculum further.
4. Long-Term Projects: Reggio Emilia is focused on long-term learning projects which might last weeks or months depending on the interest level of the students. Children will be introduced to social collaboration and how to work well in small and large groups. These projects include opportunities to problem-solve, delve deeper into a topic, and think creatively. Children are often involved in selecting the topic of study which is of interest to them. A project typically follows this sequence:
- Phase 1: Teachers observe and question kids about their topic of interest. Students share personal experiences, make representations of what they know, and raise questions about what they want to know.
- Phase 2: Teachers provide materials, provocations, and opportunities for kids to explore their topic of interest through "field work." Often times a guest speaker might visit the classroom and children's questions and hypotheses are explored. Children represent their construction of knowledge through the expressive arts.
Phase 3: In the last phase, children wrap up their individual and group work and share what they learned. Culminating projects might include creating an artifact, class book, open house, community showcase, or we create a play.
5. Relationship Education: In Reggio settings, there is a strong emphasis on the relationships between children, parents, and teachers to share knowledge and create a spirit of cooperation. Parents may actively participate in the learning development of their children and volunteer during the "project" phases.