In the spring of 2017, Senior Kindergarten teachers, Linda Krulock and Claire Norman, began a new unit of exploration. Three young students had expressed an interest in movement, specifically movement from two-wheeled vehicles…
‘How did they keep from falling over?’
‘Can they do a loop-the-loop?’
‘Why are old bikes so hard to peddle?’
These questions (and dozens more fired off in quick succession) led the class to dive deep into motion, digress from model building to upcycling, and ultimately relaunching the project by repurposing rotting bicycles into living works of art. Sprinkle in a little ‘Ride-along day’ at the end and you have a presentation well beyond any standard gymnasium assembly and one heck of a Reggio Emilia inspired lesson.
The early childhood program at Wheeling Country Day School has immersed itself in the world of Reggio Emilia, from the physical environment of each classroom to the student-inspired curriculum to the emphasis on nature in each project. It has helped our youngest students gain ownership over their learning and increase self-advocacy by engaging their passions and demanding each student use their voice in their classroom, in whatever language they prefer. The prevailing belief is children should have a say in their education, and this idea scales upward to the adults and the overall culture of our school. Teachers are given the autonomy to chase their passions as well as those of their students. This type of atmosphere has led to a richer learning environment and a stasis of sorts in which content mastery is a result but learning is paramount. It has also led to an embrace of failure as a catalyst for growth and a demand for risk taking in every classroom.