The first few years of a child’s education is crucial since it marks the beginning of a lifelong journey. While most of the learning is carried out by preschool teachers at the kindergarten, the time spent at home is valuable. During the preschool years, a child spends more time at home than at school. Hence, coordination between the environment at school and home facilitates the learning process of children to a great extent. This holds true for the Reggio Emilia approach as well, since it helps children in learning through exploration. In this article, we will talk about how you can make your home Reggio friendly to help your child’s education journey. The Reggio Emilia Curriculum Before we proceed further, let us take a quick look at the Reggio Emilia approach. Developed post World War II in the Reggio Emilia town of Italy, this is an innovative approach to preschool learning which is based on the principle that children learn in a variety of ways. It is a student-centred learning process which takes into the fact that children can control their own learning and learn through a multi-sensory approach – touching, seeing, listening, hearing, moving and others. Teachers and parents work as facilitators and mentors, guiding the children in their learning path. Click here to learn more about the Reggio Emilia approach. Reggio-Friendly Materials In the Reggio Emilia approach, the environment is identified as a ‘third teacher’ and hence, the atmosphere in which the child grows up plays an important role. Hence, the environment in which the child grows up can be modified to ensure a child makes the best of learning through this play-based philosophy. Children’s surrounding can be filled with beautifully crafted innovative toys made with natural materials to build a love for beauty and aesthetics in children. Avoid all plastic materials and choose open-ended materials instead. Open-ended materials hone children’s creativity and expression by removing any restriction in exploration and experimentation. These resources spark kids’ curiosity and creativity. Keep items such as wooden toys, pine cones, plants, pebbles, wooden building blocks, sticks, bark, leaves through which the child can learn about the natural environment. This will help the kids to match whatever they have learned in school with that at home and thus work as positive reinforcement. Other examples of open-ended materials include fabrics, ceramic tiles, mosaic glass pieces and others. A Seamless Learning Between The School And Home Reggio Emilia harps on the freedom of learning and hence, create a flexible schedule at home which includes enough time to spend with family and enough time to play. Try to take out time from your busy schedule and play with your child. Encourage your child to ask questions so that the learning can be facilitated. In the Reggio Emilia approach, children are encouraged to ask as many questions as possible about a subject until they are tired of it. This goes well beyond the boundaries of the school and extends to the home. Listen to the questions your children ask or observe them while they are playing. This will lead to simple conversations that will pave the way for some of the best lessons you can give your child. However, the key to mastering this lies in following your child’s lead rather than taking the lead yourself. Find a subject that your child is interested in and have conversations around them. Often parents find an activity or a book that they find interesting and try to involve the child in it. However, this is not the principle of Reggio Emilia, because what interests you might not interest your child. Another important aspect of the Reggio Emilia approach is seeing the child as a capable being. A major part of this involves taking responsibilities. Assign small responsibilities to the children regarding the environment surrounding them and their self-care such as brushing their teeth on their own, taking a bath on their own, taking care of pets, gardening, arranging the dining table for dinner, etc. These will help them imbibe living skills and also make them feel included in the family and community as a whole. It is very easy to have a Reggio friendly home – and quite inexpensive too. All you need to do is go back to the basics and surround your child with the natural materials. You will see the difference in your child’s progress as you incorporate such items at home.
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