Wondering whether to choose a Reggio-Emilia inspired or ‘traditional’ school? Here’s why you should be looking at the teaching approach, how teachers view learners and the environment to see if its the right fit for your unique child
When you are researching preschools, it’s important to understand the school’s ethos, curriculum and approach to teaching so you can see if it’s the right fit for your individual child. Many preschools have a structured curriculum whereas schools like the Singapore American School (SAS) follow a Reggio Emilia-inspired approach, where the curriculum is flexible, hands-on, and largely led by the child’s interests. So how can you tell if this is the right approach for your child?
What is a Reggio-Emilia inspired approach?
The core of the Reggio-Emilia inspired philosophy is an understanding and respect for young children as unique, capable, and curious learners. Unlike schools where there is a preset and fixed curriculum, SAS’ Reggio-Emilia inspired philosophy involves preschool students and teachers coming together each day to investigate, ideate, build relationships, and create shared meaning about the world around them.
Why is it important to know what the teacher’s image of the child is?
You may hear the phrase ‘image of the child’ a lot in Reggio-Emilia inspired schools. The concept of the ‘image of the child’ recognises that the ideas that teachers hold about children and childhood are created by the societies in which they live. This influences how teachers talk to, listen to and observe children. Educators at SAS believe children are capable, curious and competent learners. Children are agents of their own learning, demonstrating a strong ability to make their own decisions and advocate positive contributions to their community.
Why you should consider the school’s environment
Your child will spend a considerable amount of time in the classroom at preschool. Or will they? At a Reggio-Emilia inspired school like SAS, the early learning centre environment is designed to be intentional, flexible, and reflective. The environment will be especially geared to prompt relationships, communication, collaboration, and exploration – and as such SAS like to think of it as the third teacher! At SAS it’s not just in the classroom where kids learn. Depending on their areas of inquiry and interest, students can enjoy the school’s 1.6 acre rainforest to learn about nature; engage in water play; play in the playground and ride bikes.
What are the teachers like?
At SAS’ preschool, teachers observe and listen to children, asking questions to discover their ideas, hypotheses, and theories. With this understanding, teachers act as a support and a resource for children, considering how children’s thinking might be guided toward new discoveries. Teachers here believe that children have 100 different languages of learning, and 100 different ways to express their thoughts, understanding, and creativity. From dancing and painting, to imagining and exploring, to listening and questioning; the possibilities for expression are endless. Collaborating with children and building relationships between teachers, peers, their learning environment, and the parent community is at the core of the SAS approach.
Sometimes getting a real understanding of a preschool and what they stand for and how they interact with children can only be done in person. If you are keen to truly understand what makes SAS one-of-a-kind, head on over for an exciting glimpse into the happiest place on the little red dot! Learn more about the early years program at SAS here or get in touch with the school’s admissions team for a tour!