Collage Day School hosts workshop on Italian educational philosophy

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Collage Day School recently hosted a workshop on an educational philosophy rooted in Italy that focuses on viewing children as individuals who are curious and have powerful potential to learn. 

Angela Fowler, executive director and lead consultant of Cultivating the Early Years, led the workshop on the concept known as the Reggio Emilia Approach. She is working with Collage to integrate the philosophy into the Ponte Vedra Beach school. The Feb. 14 workshop was free and open to the public and attended by parents, teachers, staff and administration of Collage. 

“It was a great visit; the staff and administration are really eager to study the Reggio Emilia Approach,” said Fowler, whose Chicago-based organization is devoted to progressive developmentally appropriate education for the early years, including the Reggio Emilia Approach. “They are all very dedicated to supporting children’s learning in the best way possible. It’s really a pleasure to work with such dedicated and excited teachers and administrators.”

Originating in Reggio Emilia, Italy, the Reggio Emilia Approach is based on the idea that “intelligent children deserve intelligent teachers.” Fowler said some of the key concepts include valuing children as strong capable learners, and understanding that exciting and engaging environments are key to drawing children into meaningful experiences. 

Reggio teachers employ four major strategies exposing children to educational opportunities that encourage self-expression, communication, logical thinking and problem solving. Each child is tracked along a specific learning journey. Its flexible and child-centric learning approach allows children to be immersed and to explore their learning tasks in greater depth.  

Fowler discussed the major tenants of the Reggio Emilia Approach at the workshop and guided attendees through a series of exercises to expose them further to the philosophy. In one of the exercises, Fowler asked attendees to write four words that describe them, and then asked them to use visuals to represent those four words. The purpose was to illustrate the concept of doing one activity in several ways and learning through different pathways or experiences, which is also central to the educational philosophy. 

“They were very positive and really engaged in the hands-on arts experiences, which are an important part of this approach,” Fowler said. 

According to Scholastic, principles of the Reggio Emilia Approach also include an emergent curriculum in which curriculum topics are derived from talking with children and their families; in-depth projects; and collaboration in the classroom. 

Collage Day School is a member of the North American Reggio Emilia Alliance and the Reggio Children International Network. Located at 171 Canal Blvd. in Ponte Vedra Beach, Collage is designed to educate students from three months through sixth grade, and is based on best practice and research on the most effective methods in child development and education. Visit https://www.collagedayschool.org/ for more information.

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