Reggio in IB Setup
Two philosophies which have really gained ground in today’s education world are – Reggio and play based learning. The enhanced Primary Years Program of the IB curriculum also lays a lot of stress on play being central to teaching and learning. Some similarities between the two programmes can be listed out as- student centric, inquiry based, learning through exploration and play. An amalgamation of Reggio and play based learning in IB approach is what we follow in our school where child is centric, child is unique, and child learns through play.
The school’s mission ‘to create a community of curious, lifelong learners through compassion, collaboration and creative pursuits to achieve global sustainable goals’ aligns well with the IB mission and Reggio philosophy which talks about ‘the child as strong, capable and resilient; rich with wonder and knowledge’. The curriculum has been designed keeping in mind that ‘the child is unique’ and learns by doing. Teachers remain facilitators and take a back seat while the child is given opportunities to explore, create, express, think, problem solve, imagine etc.
How do we bring Reggio in a PYP set up?
The answer to this question lies in how we approach our units of inquiry through the six transdisciplinary themes. IB philosophy talks of constructivism and how learning happens when ideas are based on previous knowledge. A provocation corner is set up to arouse the curiosity in children as tuning in to any unit of inquiry. This is what Reggio calls – ‘environment as the third teacher’ i.e. creating learning spaces and giving opportunities to children to explore, share ideas, interact and express. Materials are added to these spaces to promote creativity, thinking and problem solving skills, questioning, experimentation and open-ended play.
Citing an example of how kindergarteners learnt about ‘Plants’ through the TD theme ‘Sharing the planet’ will give a clear picture of how children made connections to the central idea- ‘Plants sustain life on Earth’. The provocation for the plants unit was set up with different types of plants, some fresh, some wilted and dead in the corner and through door display. Various materials such as seeds, glass marbles, plastic beads, pasta, gardening tools, soil, gravel, sand and pebbles were added with the question-‘Guess what we are inquiring into?’ The class environment was turned into the ’third teacher’ to support our inquiry.
Children are naturally curious and like to explore things with their hands. With the right questioning and reflections on hands-on explorations, the teacher is able to get the first thinking of her children and build from there.
As the unit progressed and children gathered that plants grow from seeds, they were posed a question – ‘Where do we get seeds from?’. This time the teacher took the learning outdoors. After a nature walk and collecting various things, they returned to the investigation area where some fruits, vegetables and flowers were kept. They cut the fruits and vegetables open to find a lot of seeds inside, but the question remained unanswered – do they grow?
They were given the opportunity to grow their own plants in individual pots as well as on the school garden patch. A variety of seeds such as carrots, beetroots, marigold, spinach etc. were sown to make it more experiential. The exploration/investigation area was always abuzz with children experimenting about needs of a plant and constantly enquiring about the right conditions for growth of a plant.
Learning was not restricted within the classroom but spilled outdoors in the corridors, in the school garden and even beyond when they went for a farm visit. Similar to a Reggio inspired setup, the learning spaces kept changing as per the needs of the learning and the children kept transitioning accordingly. So now the inquiry merged with the Math concept of measurement to find out whose plant had grown the tallest or outside checking on the weighing scale to find the heaviest vegetables. They even sorted the vegetables as part of the plant that we eat to create a graph.
What Loris Malaguzzi talks of ‘100 languages of children’ is how we have a transdisciplinary approach to learning through various disciplines. ‘Through the use of painting, sculpting, music, science, dancing, construction, storytelling, theatre and other forms of self-expression, children are taught to give voice to their thoughts and ideas, as well as to share their newfound discoveries and understandings’. They enacted different stages of growth of a seed to plant. They illustrated and created models of life with and without plants. They also displayed attributes of being caring and responsible towards their plants.
We firmly believe in the Reggio philosophy that each child is ‘infinitely capable, creative and intelligent’ and ‘need the freedom to appreciate the infinite resources of their hands, eyes and their ears’. Every day by giving our children multiple opportunities to express their ideas, think beyond and problem solving through critical thinking we are exposing them to the best of both worlds and getting them future ready.