A Reggio Emilia Approach
The Reggio Emilia Approach is an educational philosophy containing a set of “principles” that encourage the development of the child and self. Every child is born a scientist, they are born inquisitive and they are born inspired. Traditional education systems stunt this growth through rigid curricula and set rules determined by adults. The Reggio Emilia approach is very different. The concept is to take what children already have and nurture this. All children bring with them an innate curiosity about the world and their own individual sense of self. The teacher’s job is to facilitate learning, guided by the founding principles and with a focus on the “hundred languages” philosophy.
A British Early Years Approach
We base our curriculum upon the Reggio approach as it has so many strengths. The style of education is perfect for developing curiosity, for teaching children to empathise with others, for giving them motivation and goals without influencing them with our own biases. However we believe that no educational system is perfect and therefore we have taken parts of the British Curriculum and merged it with a Reggio way of thinking in order to teach Phonics, Maths and Thai separately. A child that can read and write and has basic maths skills is able to truly investigate by themselves. Being able to read and record information opens up a child’s world to boundless research. This is a vital aspect for helping children become truly independent. This does however go against the Reggio philosophy where children are in charge of the learning.
Our curriculum is set up with the idea of every lesson should be a “party”. We use party games merged with phonics teaching. For example the children play musical chairs with phonics letters on their seats. Staying within the realms of Reggio we believe that if a child is not interested in learning in any lesson, whilst we encourage we do not force them to take part. In fact if they aren’t enjoying the lesson, the teacher will take note and adapt the lesson so that the child is motivated to join in. This approach means that the children are always motivated, they are still responsible for their learning, they are in charge but they also gain the vital skills needed to pursue a truly independent Reggio style of learning.
There are many important modes of expression in a child’s development. These modes of communication are called the “Hundred Languages” and include the likes of sculpture, shadow play, music, movement, writing, speech and many more.
The environment serves as the “Third Teacher” with focus on such things as the children’s work, loose parts, light, shadow, nature and recyclable materials. All aspects of the environment provide the children with opportunities to discover, question and learn.
Teachers act as mediators between what the children currently understand and what they are on the threshold of understanding. The teacher’s role is to help the children to achieve the goals that they themselves have set.
A Balanced Approach
Children who learn at British Early Years Centre start their learning journey at a much earlier stage than their peers do in other schools in Thailand or in the U.K. It is important to note however, that the teaching, across all of the age groups is heavily reliant on game and party based activities. Teachers incorporate learning objectives into fun, well known games that children love to play, perhaps using familiar toys, puppets and other fun props.
We are able to boast incomparable literacy, maths and Thai levels. Our curriculum for the core subjects is so strong now that our children are achieving levels and results at least 1 year ahead of the national average in the U.K. In most cases, with children that have studied with us since Pre-K, they are more than 2 years ahead in Phonics and Maths. Our online coverage in recent years has caught the attention of many educational institutions overseas including the U.K. and Korea. The European Chamber of Commerce has now named BEYC as their sole recommendation for a Preschool and Nursery for Expat families relocating to Bangkok.
Investigations build over time. Children are allowed time to reflet and improve on what they have done. Teachers get to know the personal time of each child and allow them the correct amount needed in order to achieve their goals.
Teachers offer children the opportunity to work with whoever they wish. They can choose to work in big groups, small groups, individually or with the teacher. This type of learning allows children the chance to gain vital interaction and social skills.
The teacher acts as a facilitator to learning. Their role is to observe and document how the children learn and develop. The teacher will ask the right questions and provide quality resources in order to guide the children’s thought process, while allowing them enough time to find the answers themselves.
Concise Efficient Assessment
Ongoing and continual assessment is crucial to the planning and customisation of your child’s learning. It is from effective assessment that appropriate and challenging learning objectives can be set. It is also the means at which we are able to group children by their ability.
We believe in assessment through play for younger children. If children are learning through play then they should also be assessed in the same way. After all it is this environment where they are most relaxed and the most likely to perform at their best, where the most realistic results are shown.
As the children grow older and become more confident, assessment will be conducted one-to-one with a child in a very informal and relaxed way.
Children in Foundation level are assessed on a daily basis during teacher-led play activities whilst children in Reception and Year 1 are formally assessed on a half termly basis.
The curriculum is not established in advance but rather the children decide what they would like to learn. In this scenario the teacher might guide the children’s ideas and select ways that they might take their chosen topic, but ultimately the children are in charge.
Learning by doing is of great importance and the primary way of gaining knowledge and skills. Ideas for investigations may evolve as the topic progresses and they can last a day or even several weeks. The teacher acts as a partner and facilitator to the children as they explore their own ideas.
Once the children have decided on the topic they are given the chance to research and discuss what they already know. From here the children record questions with the teacher and as a class they decide what they want to find out. The children will be presented with a balance of opportunities for learning (hundred languages). As the topic progresses the children can alter their path and only they are responsible for deciding when they have finished.
When planning teachers will always be concerned with the “hundred languages” of the children. Traditionally schooling has looked at reading, writing, speaking and listening as our core ways to communicate. The idea behind the hundred languages approach is that children communicate in different ways and it is important that the child is given the opportunity to express themselves in any way that they would like. Various media can be combined to tell a story and the teacher’s role is to listen and help the children to express themselves as individual learners and as their own “teacher”. The benefit of this is increased confidence of expression, and improved cognitive ability. By using different languages the children learn to problem solve through hands on practice.