Loris Malaguzzi, the founder of Reggio Emilia's educational philosophy, considered the learning environment to be the “third” teacher, after the parents and the classroom teachers. He emphasized that the environment plays a central role in the process of making learning meaningful. The Mays School has created an environment for children that stimulates a sense of discovery that allows teachers and children to learn together. The following key aspects of The Mays School are examples of how the Reggio philosophy is implemented.
The Classroom – MAYS teachers work hard to create a home-like space that encourages learning. You will notice that materials are easily accessible, uncluttered and inviting. Children manipulate objects and create art, fostering creativity that you will see displayed in their classroom or sent home for you to celebrate; “an extension of home, not a watered down version of school.”
Emergent Curriculum – Children are encouraged to generate their own ideas and theories. Teachers act as a guide and resource, creating activities based on the children’s interests. The goal is to teach the children how to learn, not what to learn. For example, if the children are showing an interest in colors, the teachers set up provocations to explore color mixing with paint, add paint chips from the local hardware store to work on patterning, and have lots of conversations about colors. Our older children may even start a lesson on color theory, tie in moods and emotions, and start and writing and reading color words!
A Natural Theme – Materials used in all areas of play maintain a natural theme, using neutral colors as a backdrop and featuring children’s work as the main attraction. This theme is also continued in the outdoor learning areas. Children of every age utilize this space for learning, from babies to Pre-K. As an urban school, The Mays School has done a fantastic job using the space available to facilitate nature-themed learning.
The Child’s Identity – Every child is celebrated at MAYS. Displaying their artwork is important to make them feel appreciated as a learner within their environment, emphasizing the understanding that the child is just as important as the child’s understanding of the teacher.
Strong Parent Involvement – We don’t forget that the parent is the child’s first teacher. The Reggio Emilia Approach believes in strong parent involvement in the classroom, and that clear channels for sharing information, communication, cooperation, and partnership with parents is vital. MAYS has an open door policy and opportunities throughout the year to participate in activities in the class, or to create your own!