Phoenix Child Centre is a non-profit charitable organization located inside Seneca Hill P. S., serving families with children 2.6 to 12 years of age. Phoenix has been an integral part of the Seneca Hill community since being incorporated in 1979. Over the years we have seen surrounding neighbourhoods grow and change and we have grown and changed right along with them, however, our commitment to a high standard of care has remained a constant.
We adopted the Reggio Approach some 20 years ago and continue to be inspired by the principles that guide our work. We have come to recognize the strength of character, the wealth of knowledge and the capabilities within each of the children who call or have called Phoenix home. Their passion for learning continues to be the basis of our curriculum and gently directs our pedagogy.
Documenting children’s learning in a context that allows teachers, parents and most importantly, the children to “see” the evolution of learning through project work is the cornerstone of the Reggio Philosophy. We take a great deal of pride in the collaborative work of the children and teachers. Each project is carefully considered and documented to capture moments of inquiry, discovery and wonder. Embedded in each completed documentation are the four pillars of, Ontario’s, “How Does Learning Happen?”, Belonging, Well Being, Engagement and Expression.
Our Environment is an integral component of our philosophy. It conveys respect for the natural world and promotes active learning and engagement. The environment is indeed the Third Teacher in our classrooms!
Reggio Emilia Inspired Learning
The Reggio Approach consists of 3 main tenets, the child, the teacher and the environment. Each is viewed as the foundation of the approach and is of equal importance. Loris Malaguzzi, the founder of the Reggio Approach understood that children are powerful beings, able to understand multiple concepts, provided they are given the tools and time to do so. In Reggio Emilia, the “tools” we speak of are symbolic languages, such as art, drama, painting, sculpture, and music, known as the “100 Languages”. Children express their understanding through multiple languages, with support from their teachers and an interactive environment.
Much like John Dewey, Piaget and Vygotsky, Malaguzzi understood that children learn best when immersed in the subject matter, learning is active, not passive, consequently knowledge is gained when children use their hands, minds, engage with peers, teachers and community.
At Phoenix, we provide opportunities for children to engage in active inquiry through project work. Children decide what they need to know, teachers act as guides and co-collaborators to expertly keep projects moving forward through discussion, observation and hands on, engaging learning opportunities.
We know that children are capable and will seek understanding of the world through questioning, experimentation, and a sense of wonder.
In a Reggio environment, the teacher is non-traditional, in that he or she does not impart wisdom from the front of the classroom, they are fully engaged in the process of learning right along with the child or children. She/he is a guide, a co-collaborator, an advocate of the learning process and a keen observer of behaviour. The teachers know the children well, understand learning styles and provides opportunities for in depth study through project work.
Each part of the project is carefully documented, every conversation between children and adults is studied to understand the direction of children’s thinking and inquiry. Interactive experiences are planned, provocations are set out and all reactions of the children are recorded for later study and included in the process of documentation. Teachers learn and discover with the children, their passion and sense of wonder propels the project forward.
Teachers reflect as individuals, as teaching partners and as a teaching community. To reflect is to know where we have been and where we are going, teachers write about their feelings, their joys and their struggles when reflecting on classroom and project work.
The environment is indeed the third teacher, but what does that mean? Simply put, it means that the environment is designed to support inquiry and discovery, places and spaces that are interesting and spark more questions than answers. It is filled with possibilities and engages hearts, hands and minds, it invites experimentation and risk taking and most importantly provides opportunities for strong reciprocal relationships.
It understands the importance of the natural world and brings the inside out and the outside in. It provides challenges and yet is a safe haven to wonder aloud without recrimination. It contains the history of those who came before us and offers enlightenment for those who will come after. It is ever changing as new ideas and visions take hold giving voice to and reflecting back the ideals and passions of those who inhabit it.
We at Phoenix, have created a home for our children, families and teachers, our environment wraps it’s arms around all those that enter, welcoming each new face with joy and acceptance.