Natural researchers in Early ChildhoodWritten by Andrea Miller
At the start of the school year, the Friends Academy Lower School introduced a new space and faculty member dedicated to enhancing Early Childhood curriculum. Line Kristensen, the school's new Reggio Emilia Specialist and Early Childhood Educator designed the new Friends Academy Atelier – an experimental research center for children, faculty, and the community to explore their interests.
In the Atelier, educators work alongside children, as natural researchers, on short and long-term explorations/investigations. Together they find answers to children’s inquiries and questions about themselves and the world around them. The children’s learning is seen by documenting the process and the children’s findings. "This process is just as essential as the final product," Kristensen said.
In one unit, Pre-K children worked with color, light & shadow, and music, listening to themselves in recordings. In another lesson, other Pre-K children explored printmaking and will soon add their prints to the pages of their individual alphabet books. "So far, they’ve used oil pastels, Sharpies, tissue paper, watercolors, etchings, and collages cut from magazines to express themselves," shared Kristensen. Each page will include a quote from the child, documenting the process.