Wednesday, July 7, 2010

“Numbers Never Stop” –Annalisa; age 5,6

Kelley attended a break-out session today about math contexts in preschools. Children are naturally attracted to the relationships between objects, which is really the basis of math. For example, you may have noticed young children putting objects in a line and enhancing these sequences by adding more materials or creating variations. Children also rely on gestures and their body to become aware of space, i.e. - placing both feet inside a floor tile or extending their arms as they pass through a hallway. It is important for us to observe children carefully, pay attention to how they express themselves mathematically, hypothesize about their mathematical exploration, and provide an environment to continue experiences.

The Hundred Languages of Children from Reggio

Today’s focus was on the hundred languages of children. Here are some thoughts on this fundamental theory here:

• Children know the world around them largely through non-verbal languages; their way of knowing is multi-sensory and multidisciplinary by nature.
• The capacity for children’s expression through many languages is often unrecognized and/or underestimated.
• From their careful observations of children, the educators in Reggio Emilia maintain that the aesthetics IS the way of knowing and the arts offer poly-sensory ways to explore and make sense of the world.

An example described children building trees out of clay. To make the trunk balance and stand upright, children make connections to the properties of real trees and what is necessary for trees to sustain life. When the teacher watches to see what the children do to make the tree stand up, different forms for different solutions to this problem are noted. The learning becomes visible.

When we consider the multiple ways children show their understanding, we focus on making connections and not separating knowledge.

A challenge for teachers of very young children is to understand their thinking when they have so few words with which to tell us. Children give us messages with their bodies. The body IS the mind. We should watch children closely to gain insight into their thinking.

This is all still highly theoretical and will be the source of good discussion as we unpack with you upon our return. We can’t believe this is only day two of our time here—the amount of information we have taken in makes it feel like two weeks! Phew!