Many of the resources I have been exploring about the Reggio Emilia approach are written by adults, so you can imagine my delight when I came across ADVISORIES, a book authored by five- and six- year old children from the Diana School in Reggio Emilia, Italy. Advisories is a visit to the Diana School from the point of view of six year old children who are leaving the preschool to go to elementary school.
Knowing that their school will welcome new three-year olds in September, the older children are experimenting with the journalistic task of explaining things and advising the new entrants. They have engaged in connecting their own memories and what they consider to be important to the possible interests and questions of arriving students. Advisories is a representation of the events, people, and spaces at the Diana School through the interpretations of six year old students.
The Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education contests the idea of knowledge as an objective representation of a real world, in favour of knowledge as “an interpretation of reality that is constantly evolving” (Gandini, 2006, p. 125). This reality is socially constructed by each member of the school community in relation with others. Advisories gives us a glimpse into the interpretations of school and classroom life by older students as they reconstruct their memories and repurpose them to an audience of younger children.
This resources is quickly becoming a favourite of mine as if offers a fresh perspective on school life in Reggio Emilia, Italy. It inspires me to create a similar project with our students who will be leaving kindergarten, encouraging them to put themselves in the shoes of someone they don’t know and contemplate their expectations and needs.
The idea of creating a class book by students for new entrants makes me wonder …
These questions reaffirm for me the importance of engaging in authentic conversation with our students in contexts that are relevant and meaningful for them. Central to early childhood education is the commitment to listen and consult with our students, ensuring that their voices, views, and understandings are heard and can be made visible (Kinney & Wharton, 2007). Advisories inspires me to reflect more deeply on how we can be more effective in hearing, seeing and feeling the interpretations of school life by students.
Kinney, L., & Wharton, P. (2007). An encounter with Reggio Emilia: Children’s early learning made visible. Routledge.
Rinaldi, C. (2006). In dialogue with Reggio Emilia: Listening, researching and learning. Psychology Press.