Storyteller, April 2011
The Environment as the Third Teacher: A Portal to Change
and the Beginning of a Journey
“Teachers, parents, and children working and playing together have created a
very particular space: a space which reflects their personal lives, the history and culture of the school, and the immediate culture and geography of their lives.”
Lella Gandini, 2008
How very far we have come on our journey! In Fall, 2007, believing that we were ready to begin the very challenging and sometimes overwhelming process of exploring the elements of the Reggio Emilia approach, we wondered where to begin: documentation, the image of the child, family participation, the role of the teacher as a co-researcher…or the environment as the third teacher–?! We chose environments and we began to create beautiful, inviting and interesting spaces for children. What we may not have realized at that time was that the environment became a portal, allowing us to enter into a dialogue with one another, with families, with children and with other educators, indirectly, yet inescapably leading us to the other elements of the Reggio approach.
Now, only three years later, we have learned a great deal about the image of the child, the role of the teacher, family involvement, documentation—and, yes, we are still studying the impact of our environments on children’s growth and learning. In the February Storyteller, I wrote about the power of the “Wonder of Learning—Hundred Languages of Children” exhibit as a tool for professional development. Many of us have now visited the exhibit a few times since it came to Santa Monica in January and hope to return before it leaves our area on April 25th. The experience of meeting and listening to Amelia Gambetti at the opening of the exhibit and of viewing the collective work shared in the exhibit itself have brought us closer to the educators of Reggio Emilia, Italy. We feel a deeper connection to their work.
During the past three years, we have toured our neighboring Reggio inspired preschools to study their interpretation of the approach. Understanding that each school community embraces the Italian practices uniquely, we admire each program’s representation of the approach within its own context. Trips to Boulder Journey School in Colorado and to Para Los Ninos sites in downtown Los Angeles have confirmed that each school society applies its own definition of Reggio to its particular history, culture and geography. The exhibit, however, has offered us a slightly more direct connection with the schools and educators of Reggio Emilia. We are inspired to continue our journey—but where to go next? More classes and workshops? Yes. More dialogue with our neighbors? Yes. More visits to other contexts? Yes. And, trips to Reggio Emilia to see for ourselves and develop our own interpretations and understandings? Yes!
I am very excited to announce that Soraya and I have the opportunity to embark upon a new phase of our program’s journey. We will be joining about 100 other educators from North America for the May, 2010 Study Tour in Reggio Emilia, Italy. We leave on April 30th and return on May 8th. Our experience will include lectures, presentations, meetings, tours of the preschools and infant-toddler centers and conversations with other educators whose schools are part of a journey we began three years ago. We have learned that our colleagues/mentors from Blueberry Atelier will also be present.
Sending teachers and our director to Italy has been one of our goals since 2007, but for practical reasons (financial, logistical and educational), we elected to begin our professional development close to home, where, fortunately, the seeds of Reggio were sown over 15 years ago. Now, like many of our colleagues in Santa Monica and throughout the U.S., we believe that it is time for us to form our own interpretations and thus shape Italian practices within our own context.
Soraya and I are grateful for this opportunity and have agreed to pay for a significant portion of our travel costs. We believe that this is a worthwhile investment for ourselves and for our community as a whole. We appreciate the support of our Board of Trustees and hope to send other members of our staff to Italy in the future. We look forward to our adventure—and to sharing our impressions and understandings with colleagues, children and parents upon our return.
Click on the links below or scroll down for this month’s topics:
- Background Information
- May, 2010 Newsletter
- Important Dates: April –June, 2010
- NAEYC Week of the Young Child
- Parent/Teacher Conferences
- Lunch with Loved Ones
- PPS Hundred Languages of Children Open House Fundraiser
- Tuition Payments for New and Returning Families
- Summer Programs
- Preschool Mission Statement
If you would like to learn more about the history of the preschools and infant/toddler centers in Reggio Emilia, please take a look at the NAREA (North American Reggio Emila Alliance website: www.reggioalliance.org. The international group that collaborates to organize the Study Tours is Reggio Children. Please speak with Nancy if you would like further info.
May, 2010 Newsletter
The May Storyteller will be published after Nancy’s return from Reggio Emilia. Please look for that edition of the newsletter during the week of May 10th. This April edition includes calendar information for April, May and June.
Important Dates: April –June, 2010
- April 12: Classes Resume
- April 19-23: NAEYC Week of the Young Child (see events description)
- April 22: Preschool Tours
- April 28: Parent/Teacher Conferences (preschool closed)
- April 30-May 8: Soraya and Nancy on Study Tour
- Date Change May 14: Lunch with Loved Ones (see description)
- May 19: PPS Hundred Languages of Children Open House/Fundraiser (5:30 to 7:30 p.m.)
- May 20: Preschool Tours
- May 21: California Pizza Kitchen Fundraiser
- May 31: Memorial Day (preschool closed)
- June 4: New Family Orientation: 10:00 a.m.
- June 8: Teacher Appreciation Luncheon
- June 11: Breakfast with Loved Ones
- June 15: Carnival (early dismissal)
- June 16: Last Day of Classes (early dismissal)
- June 29 (through July 23): Summer Programs
NAEYC Week of the Young Child
Children Have the Potential to Change Communities
- Monday, April 19:
Outreach Committee launches drive for Upward Bound, Santa Monica organization providing transitional housing for homeless families with children
- Wednesday, April 21:
Children’s Literature—Standards for Quality Meeting with Nancy in the Library at 9:00 a.m.
- Friday, April 23:
Palisades Preschool Neighborhood Parade—Parents and Siblings Invited!
Wednesday, April 28
(Preschool closed, but childcare provided for time of conference)
Please be sure to attend this last parent/teacher conference for the school year. The teachers are working on children’s Portfolios and Desired Results Developmental Profiles and look forward to sharing authentic examples of your child’s learning and development over the past few months. The focus of this last conference is on cognitive development, but will also feature social-emotional and physical growth as well as self-help skills. Please know that the preparation of the children’s individual Portfolios requires considerable time and care. Teachers have worked over the Spring Break and late into the afternoons in order to create these lovely connections between home and school. Those of you whose children are graduating from our program will receive your family copy of the Portfolio at the end of the school year in June.
Lunch with Loved Ones
Please join the children and teachers in your child’s class for a picnic on the play yard! Bring a picnic lunch and a blanket—hat/sunscreen, too.
- Cherry Blossom & Rosemary Rooms: 11:00 to 12:00 (dismissal at 12:00)
- Dandelion & Sunflower Rooms: 12:00 to 1:00 (dismissal at 1:00)
PPS Hundred Languages of Children Open House Fundraiser
Wednesday, May 19 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
PPS families are invited to our annual Open House! All classrooms, the studio and our outdoor play area will be available and we encourage families to take a look at all of our environments. The children and teachers in each class are creating beautiful items to be auctioned within each classroom community via a Silent Auction on the evening of the Open House. A raffle for A Date with Teachers is another element included in this year’s event—as well as a Cash Raffle. Tickets for the Date with Teachers and Cash Raffle will be sold prior to the event. Refreshments will be served in the Parish Hall.
Please help us to celebrate the Hundred Languages of Children!
Tuition Payments for New and Returning Families
The June, 2011 tuition payment for the 2010-2011 preschool year is due in advance on June 1, 2010. No further payments for the 2010-2011 preschool year will be due until September. We will send an invoice for the September tuition and the $350 Materials Fee in August, included with other information about Fall, 2010. Thank you.
Applications for Transition Classes for new families and for Summer Camp for returning children will be available on April 15. Both Transition Classes and Summer Camp begin on June 29. Camp activities include outdoor water and sand play, woodworking, music, dance, and outdoor games. Children bring their lunch. Campers can attend all 4 weeks or selected weeks. The first session of Transition is from June 29 to July 9. The second session begins on July 12 and ends on July 23. Please see Karen for more info.
Children and teachers have together been researching self-portraits and family portraits. Here are some examples from the Dandelion Room:
Children’s self-portraiture represents a step in their understanding of symbolic languages. Coupled with the words they dictate about their drawings, self-portraits make a powerful declaration about their developing sense of identity.
Preschool Mission Statement
Our mission is to serve our community by offering a preschool experience for children and families that celebrates diversity, creativity and kindness. These values are embedded within a rich child-centered curriculum that provides individuals and groups with opportunities to investigate, explore and express themselves through meaningful play.