Many of the first Reggio Emilia schools were founded in Italy, but today they are seen all over the world.
Reggio Emilia is a child-centered approach that supports multi-teacher experiences, views the environment as an educator, encourages the visualization of teachings, provides in-school kitchens, collaboration with participating families, and more. SoulShine Schools of Atlanta applies these concepts to create its unique learning centers.
SoulShine Schools is an independent organization made up of three schools in Atlanta, Georgia. They offer educational services to children from 6 weeks through 12 years old, with an advanced curriculum inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach.
This article will explore how Soulshine School in Atlanta applies these principles to create a thriving learning environment for all.
Introducing SoulShine Schools
SoulShine Schools provide a fun and creative learning environment for children, with three locations in the Atlanta area.
The schools offer programs designed to help your child learn from an early age. With their unique curriculum, SoulShine encourages kids (and parents alike!) to develop skill sets and form deep connections between themselves and nature by working on hands-on projects such as growing vegetables and working with natural materials.
SoulShine creates its educational programs with the children in mind. Childhood education has gone through some changes in the last few decades. Through Reggio Emilia, early childhood educators took a different approach to education. They started to see children as competent individuals with their own thoughts, feelings, and ways of doing things. "The environment should be so rich that it offers many possibilities for exploration and expression" (Loris Malaguzzi).
Reggio Emilia inspired schools like Soulshine bring the child-led model into the forefront of early education by providing a space for children to develop their interests and curiosities with the support of the adults in their lives.
By collaborating with parents, Soulshine ensures it stays focused on creating an environment where children are encouraged to learn and grow with the support of teachers who understand their needs.
Introducing the Reggio Emilia Approach to Atlanta
The Reggio Emilia learning process provides an engaging engagement with the world around us. It is a way of teaching in which children are given the freedom to explore and learn on their own terms and have an opportunity to be actively engaged with their environment.
The Reggio Emilia approach is based on the following principles:
Children are competent and capable learners.
The world is their classroom.
Relationships are key.
Documentation is important.
Knowledge is co-constructed.
When you visit a SoulShine school in Atlanta, Georgia, you will see that the classroom environment is set up in an open floor plan with plenty of room for exploration. Children are encouraged to learn through play and exploration.
Teachers act as facilitators in the learning process, trying to solve problems by asking questions instead of providing the answers directly. This is all done by focusing on documented learning through play and exploration.
A "Documentation Corner" is one example of how SoulShine School approaches documentation differently than other schools. The Documentation Corner is set up like a small museum or art gallery, with shelves and displays of the children's work. This space is used to celebrate the children's accomplishments and help parents understand their child's learning process.
The Reggio Emilia approach helps children learn in ways that are meaningful to them. It allows for a more personalized learning experience that considers each child's unique interests and abilities.
The Reggio Emilia approach has been implemented in a variety of schools all over the world, with great success. SoulShine is happy they are bringing this Reggio Emilia approach to Atlanta, and the results have been outstanding for children!
In a Reggio Emilia school, students are encouraged to participate in their education. This is different from how many other schools operate, where children are told what they need to learn and spend most of their time sitting at desks reciting those lessons.
To create this learning environment, SoulShine Schools have created an open-ended system that encourages children to explore and think critically about the world around them. They believe that creativity is at the heart of learning. So they provide a space for children to express themselves creatively through art, music, movement, and play in addition to traditional academic work.
SoulShine Schools provide a wide array of field trips outside the classroom to expose children to different aspects of life to broaden their perspective.
SoulShine Schools provide a fun and creative learning environment for children, with three
The Role of the Environment in Reggio Emilia-inspired Schools
In a Reggio Emilia school, the environment is set up to allow for open exploration and creativity. The children are encouraged to participate in various activities that learn through play and exploration.
Soulshine believes strongly that the environment has an impact on how students learn. They know that all children learn differently and that they need to be able to express themselves creatively. This is why Soulshine has created an environment where students are encouraged to explore, play, voice their ideas, show creativity through different mediums, and move around throughout the day.
A Reggio Emilia school also provides plenty of space for open exploration. All classrooms are set up to rearrange them for different activities easily.
One of the significant differences between a Reggio Emilia school and others is how children interact with their environment. In non-Reggio Emilia schools, children are often given worksheets to complete or directions on what they need to do. In a Reggio Emilia school such as SoulShine, the environment is designed to allow children to be creative and express themselves. This allows for a different type of learning to occur and a connection between the children and their environment that is not seen in non-Reggio Emilia schools.
The students are encouraged to use their imagination, creativity, and voice throughout the day. This allows them to become more engaged in their learning process and aids in their development as young learners.
Explicit Teaching Methodology
SoulShine bases its teaching methodology on the principles of "explicit" teaching, which means that the teachers use a more structured teaching style and hold a better model for their students.
Explicit teaching helps teachers differentiate instruction by skill level to tailor lessons as needed.
In contrast, non-explicit teaching can often confuse students or lead to boredom. The explicitness of explicit teaching also allows students to learn at a higher level because they are given less choice in what they do throughout the day and are not given as much freedom as non-explicit teaching styles.
For example, non-explicit teaching might include the teacher posing a question to students and then sitting back as they work together to determine an answer. In contrast, explicit teaching would mean the teacher providing direct instruction to the class on how to solve this problem.
In addition, SoulShine Schools believes that all children can learn and provide a place for all students to succeed. Explicit teaching allows teachers to scaffold instruction so that no student is left behind.
SoulShine Schools has been able to bring the Reggio Emilia Approach to Atlanta and see great success in the children's education. With a focus on relationships, creativity, and exploration, SoulShine provides a space for children to learn in a way that is best suited for their individual needs.
Learning through Projects
SoulShine's founders and teachers believe in the power of long-term projects as vehicles for learning.
They apply a unique blend of traditional and innovative techniques that emphasize real-life problem solving among peers and creative thinking skills through playtime activities such as painting or cooking with food found at home. Teachers work on projects together in small groups while other children engage in self-selected tasks typical for preschool classrooms.
Projects involving children are beneficial to childhood development. They give children the chance to create something new, take on challenges and make mistakes without the pressure of grades or competition. Children feel empowered by taking an active role in understanding a topic or task.
Projects can also help students develop transferable skills, like collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and design thinking.
SoulShine's approach is to integrate project work into their curriculum from an early age.
How SoulShine Schools applies Reggio Emilia Principles
SoulShine has precise requirements for teachers to work at their schools. These include a commitment to the principles of child-initiated learning, participatory teaching, collaborative co-learning, respect for the learner's experience of time and space; non-violence; and sustainability.
These principles give SoulShine its distinctive voice and approach in education. They believe that the best way to learn is through play and discovery, not structured lessons and memorization. This means they encourage parents to take on more of a role in their children's education at home than they would at most schools, which might make them seem like an unconventional school to some parents.
This innovative group of schools has found success by staying true to their beliefs, positively impacting children's lives, and creating an environment that is both nurturing and stimulating.
SoulShine brings Reggio Emilia to Atlanta, focusing on creativity, exploration, and engagement as a way of learning. This contrasts with traditional schooling methods, where children are given a more rigid structure and are often taught information through memorization.
SoulShine's application of Reggio Emilia principles in the early education classroom has been a resounding success. Their results speak for themselves – they instill a lifelong love of learning in their students that will benefit them far beyond preschool or kindergarten.
Children who attend SoulShine's schools excel in later life.
Reggio Emilia is a philosophy based on observing that children are "natural" learners. SoulShine Schools incorporates the philosophy into its curriculum to provide children with an opportunity and experience in a nurturing and meaningful environment.
SoulShine Schools is committed to applying the Reggio Emilia philosophy to education at its schools in Atlanta. SoulShine Schools has a myriad of ways it applies Reggio Emilia principles, ranging from the inclusion of hands-on, exploratory, and collaborative activities to creating safe spaces for children and respectful relationships with teachers and parents.
To find out more, take the next step. Contact SoulShine today.