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How Children Learn – Belonging, Being, Becoming

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In today’s blog, I would like to follow up last week’s poem, “The 100 Languages of Children” with a further discussion of the Reggio Emilia Educational Project as well as the Early Years Learning Framework, two educational philosophies to which Peacock Family Center ascribes.  As I said last week, Lois Malaguzzi was the founder and facilitator of the Reggio Emilia philosophy. His work was highly influenced by well-known theorists that include Vygotsky, Montessori, and Piaget. He observed, “What children learn does not follow as an automatic result from what is taught. Rather, it is in large part due to the children’s own doing, as a consequence of their activities and our resources.”
The principles of the Early Years Learning Framework, which are closely linked to Reggio philosophy, are based upon the notion that children’s experience and prior knowledge provides the best foundation for learning in Early Childhood. This understanding is communicated with the highest expectations for all children from birth to five years. At Peacock, we adhere to the following learning outcomes:
*Children have a strong sense of identity
*Children are connected with and contribute to their world
*Children have a strong sense of well-being
*Children are competent and involved learners
*Children are effective communicators
Connected to this view of children’s learning is the importance of belonging, being, and becoming.
Belonging acknowledges childrens’ interdependence with others and acknowledges the basis of relationships in defining identities. In early childhood and throughout life, relationships are crucial to a sense of belonging.
Being recognizes the significance of the here and now in children’s lives. It is about the present and children knowing themselves, building and maintaining relationships with others, engaging in life’s joys and complexities and meeting the challenges in everyday life.
Becoming reflects their process of rapid and significant change that occurs in these early years as children learn and grow.
At Peacock, play provides  the opportunity for children to learn as they discover, create, improvise, and imagine.  Play provides and supports an environment where children can ask questions, solve problems, and engage in critical thinking. Play is at the center of the curriculum, for it is at the center of a young child’s life…
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So, in our classrooms this week, what has happened?

In our InfantRoom our babies play and explore their world through their entire beings, for an infant’s reality is the merging of self with every person and object that he/she encounters. When feeding

time is interrupted by a conversation between two adults, the child cries, as this merging experience has been altered. The child resumes his cooing and smiling when the caregiver returns to what she is doing with him, and the other adult leaves the room. In our Infant Room, bonding is such an essential part of the child’s day, and the teachers are so expertly attuned to this vital part of a baby’s development.
In our Toddler Room play is at the top of the agenda. Everything is to be explored. Tasted. Felt. Their bodies are completely immersed in this world of exploration. This week mystery bottles came into the toddler room that were filled with surprise things for the children to shake and figure out what is inside (don’t worry, the bottles were sealed!) The children enjoyed stacking bricks and bowling, knocking them down over and over. They tied string to toilet paper rolls, and how simple a project can be to amuse and entertain a toddler. They stamped with sponges and paper cups, and they made turtles out of coffee filters. They talked about babies and families and they washed their own babies in the classroom, always such an enjoyable activity for a young child! The book about animal sounds continues to be a favorite, as so many sounds that come out of a waddler’s mouth has animal resemblances…At the park they climbed and climbed and rolled down the hill like an egg, up again and down again laughing all the while…
In our Green Room, the Pete Seeger classic book, Abiyoyo came alive with Abiyoyo  mask making.( Abiyoyo is a  monster who has nails he never cuts, and overgrown hair and dirty feet and he can be quite frightening until he dances himself into submission, and then he becomes an important part in the peaceful community in which he lives.) Also in the Green Room the children wrote lovely letters and a poster to a teacher who is out for a few weeks for her summer vacation. Based on the classic book by Molly Bang, When Sophie Gets Angry, the Room now has a feelings wall, where there are reprints from the beautiful drawings of this book and a place for children to go to identify their feelings of happiness, sadness, anger, explosiveness, and release and comfort afterwards. “And everything was back to normal.” is one of my favorite lines of this book, as it gives children the comforting knowledge that after letting out your feelings which can seem big and overwhelming to a young child, there is calm and a return to that familiar place of equilibrium. This is so reassuring to children. The children did lots of dress up this week, and outside, lots of water play with our warm sunny week. On the very hot day, the children splashed in the fountains next door, and they zipped down the Peacock water slide, and created damns and irrigation systems in the sand box. They took cardboard boxes and created cities and buildings and homes.
In our Blue Room, the water play described above was shared. The children taught each other about cooperation, about the importance of “saving our city”, and about how much they truly LOVE to get wet on a hot day. Also in the Blue Room, the children hand painted beautiful post cards, and then wrote a story on the back. These they will send mail off to a special person in their lives. Since the weather was so lovely and warm this week, the children had many circle times outside. They took their now finished baby animal books and they got to read them out loud to their friends. The letter of the week was “G” and the words they came up with were “goo goo gaa gaa”, garbage, gut, goose, gander, and of course, graduation. The latter has become has an exciting topic of discussion and preparation, as the children are anticipating this important rite of passage with many mixed emotions and an array of activities, songs, and artwork they are involved in. The children have engaged in talk and activity around different ball sports and physical fitness, and each day they are doing exercises and jumping jacks to music. The The letters G and J  and C and G were compared and contrasted and discussed. The upper case and the lower case were compared, and the children noticed which ones had “tails” and which did not.  With the Blue Group this week the world of the outdoors and the world of the classroom became the learning centers, each place allowing the children to freely play and imagine and create all kinds of infinitesimally rich environments.
So that, dear parents is our wonderful week.
 

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