During my recent trip to Boston, I’ve had the privilege to visit a preschool that a good friend of mine, Hillary, runs. It’s called Newtowe School and it houses children ages 2-5 years.
It was nothing short of breath taking……Unlike many Reggio Emilia schools that I have seen, this one really puts the community at the heart of their focus. They have what I call……. an ‘open door’ policy where parents were allowed and encouraged to come into the classrooms to help out on a daily basis and there are also groups of parents who work on various projects within the school so that the children will have new environments and materials to explore and to work with.
I absolutely love the community feel because I always feel that our children’s learning and being is so much a part of the community context and environment that they are a part of ……….and as such, schools that are able to draw on the community and to manage that valuable resource will be of immense benefit to the children.
After having worked in a community school for quite a while, I fully understand the complexities of involving the community into the classrooms and school because there is an awful lot of orientation and coordination work going on on a daily basis……….. and if the principal is inundated with paper work and issues with staff and parents, then this would not only be impossible to pull of effectively …………but will also put her on a really fast path to burn out.
As such, I have learnt to truly appreciate community school settings (especially the ones that use the Reggio Emilia approach) because of it’s methodology and approach.
Take a look at all these thoughtfully designed learning spaces that provokes exploration and creativity with all the different materials that have been purposefully set up with the needs of the children in mind. I hope that by sharing this experience with you that it will help expose you to learning environments that are best suited to meet the developmental needs of young children while drawing on the strengths of the community to form a rich learning environment for the children.
These are the learning provocations / centers……
And here are the collective art expressions…..
Here are a sample of the items that the children work with…….
If you’d like to read up more about Newtown School, please feel free to visit their beautiful website HERE!
How here’s a quick quiz…….. can you guess what this picture is? 10 Brownie points to anyone who can guess what this picture is about! Leave your answers in the comments section below:)