10 May

Inquiry Based Learning and the Role of the Adult

Article written by Melina Toliusis (Preschool Co-ordinator)  

Rethinking the process…

I always felt good about providing the right answers to my students questions. It gave me a sense of great pride to be able to teach great things right there and then. It took a little while for me to understand that my answers were not as important as the questions and wonders that the children have, and that by presenting the children with an answer right away, I was quickly putting an end to a greater learning moment. The wondering was over, the urge to know more was not longer there and that was it.

Open ended conversations…

When talking about art in the early years of development, people say the process is more important than the product. The learning actually happens while the child is working, mixing colours or trying different types of paper, tape or glue. This same idea applies to any other type of learning. If a child asks you, “Why does this flower smell nice?”, you can reply “What do you think? “or, “I wonder why?” When using open ended questions like these, you are allowing young children to continue wondering by engaging their brain in thought processing and exploration, leading to the development of the child's thinking, problem solving skills and much more. When adults find provoking questions that  invite the brain to work harder, a beautiful relationship forms in which the adult and the child become partners in research and the inquiry based approach works at its best. The adult does not provide the answers, but helps with the creation of them by carefully listening, honouring and understanding the way the child thinks. This allows the child to take ownership of his/her learning experience  by making it more meaningful. In addition to being a good listener, the adult also provides resources and materials to keep the interest alive and the learning evolving. Some of these materials can be as simple as a photograph, or a reference book. Others might take a little more time and effort like a walk to the park or a visit to an art gallery or science centre. As long as the interest is alive in a child's mind and wonder is present, there will always be room for improvement and time for more learning.
23 Aug

Why Reggio Emilia Philosophy?

Children are miracles. Believing that every child is a miracle can transform the way we design for children’s care. We make it our job to create with reverence and gratitude a space that is worthy of a miracle. - Anita Olds
This quotation was the last slide at the end of four professional development evenings on Reggio curriculum sponsored by BCC. The staff of BCC attended along with three of the Primary team at BICS. The evenings were exciting, inspiring and educational. We explored the background, educational philosophy and the differences in teaching style that responsive curriculum (Reggio) brings to the classroom, the children, the teachers and the families. This series of workshops from 2012 have sent BCC staff on a journey that never ends because there is so much to learn, so many rich explorations to take and because the Reggio philosophy is so deep and ever evolving—open ended and exciting. So Why Reggio is my humble attempt to help our families understand why BCC is a Reggio inspired centre—what that means, and how we go about it. At the centre of Reggio philosophy is the child, so to understand more about why we are inspired by Reggio philosophy one needs to take a look at our view of the child.  

Understanding our work...

There are two things that guide BCC in caring for and educating young children:
  • BCC’s mission statement and vision; and
  • the British Columbia Early Learning Framework.
BCC’s mission is to provide excellent care and education for children in the Bowen Island Community. Our vision is a healthy family community that supports the development of our children through:
  • social, emotional, cognitive and physical enrichment;
  • a stable, safe and happy environment in which children can play and learn and families are actively engaged; and
  • educators who are island leaders in childhood development and create a positive learning environment that has a lasting effect on our children and our community
The British Columbia Early Learning Framework (ELF), was written in partnership with:
  • the Ministry of Children and Family Development;
  • the Ministry of Education; and
  • the Ministry of Health.

Understanding our image of the child…

For me, one of the most critical statements in the framework is the Image of the Child on which the framework is grounded—the image that Reggio Emilia upholds and offers to the world. In the old days (ahem!), when I was studying to be an educator, the belief about children was that they were vessels ready to be filled with knowledge that we, as adults, were to give them—hence the thematic curriculum, etc. The ELF and Reggio view young children as “capable, full of potential, as persons with complex identities, grounded in their individual strengths and capacities and their unique social, linguistic and cultural heritage.” A very different view from what we previously thought. Worth thinking about, I believe, as it changes everything from how we speak to children, learn with children and respect who and what they are. Children have a right to their culture, language and unique heritage whatever their background – they deserve to be considered and respected, as you would with any adult and they deserve to be understood. Early childhood is a time of great learning, exploration and huge growth and development. In our environments at BCC we try to make the settings beautiful, the curriculum open and the learning child driven and unique to the child. Every child is different with developmental similarities—we try to honor and respect both the similarities and the differences by valuing each and every child. Teachers at BCC reflect often about the children and what they are learning, what their interests are and where we are going with our curriculum. Although it is open ended and based on the children’s interest, the journey is documented, the learning visible and conveyed to you, our families, through the newsletters, on the bulletin boards and class room walls and in conversations. At BCC, we value your capable, intelligent, diverse children! They are the centre of it all and that’s one of the reasons for “Why Reggio.”
22 Aug

Bowen’s Early Childhood Development Table

Origins

In 2013, Ann Silberman, ED Bowen Children’s Centre, achieved one of her life long goals—establishing a table where all the key organizations, educators and caregivers working with children birth through 12 on Bowen Island could work and plan together. Around the same time, out of a concern for the results for Bowen’s children in wave four of the Human Early Learning Partnership’s Early Development Instrument (EDI), Lynda Phillips, PHD, Early Childhood Instructor and Bowen grandmother of two, met with Ann and Jane Kellett, West Vancouver School Trustee to discuss what to do about the vulnerabilities of Bowen’s youngest. Perfect timing—the birth of the ECD table.

Our work

Our goals simply include working together to understand each others work; to research our island and collect statistics, knowledge and information; and to educate ourselves and the public and families on the importance of early childhood education so that together we can understand its importance and offer services that meet the needs of Bowen’s families. We want to identify the gaps and decrease the vulnerabilities of Bowen’s young children through collaboration, research, and coordination of services. Now an established table, we will meet four times in 2016-17. To find out who the partners are, check out our Partners page and/or, for more information, contact Ann at info@bowenchildrenscentre.ca

23 Sep

Raise a Reader!

Bowen Literacy Network hit the ferry line up today to raise awareness for Raise A Reader (RAR). RAR funds support Mother Goose, Seed to Plate and Tech Tutor, amongst other Bowen programs—thank you volunteers and everyone who bought a paper!