26. March 2012 · Write a comment · Categories: School Life · Tags:

This posting was contributed to Inquiring Minds by Mrs. Kate Daniel, Senior Kindergarten Teacher at Richland Academy.

Over the past few days, many of the SK children have been drawn to experiment with the mathematical concept of balance.  They have sought out, and used a variety of materials to investigate this idea, including recycled and natural materials, and building blocks. Usually they begin to explore alone, but often another child observes and is drawn in. It involves much problem solving, and negotiation to ensure each new object is placed in a position which does not cause the others to fall.  This activity results in deep concentration and focus for a sustained period of time.  It enables the children to experience both ‘success’ and ‘failure’ through an authentic, and pleasurable, activity.Failure often leads to greater success, as the children persevere and their balanced structures become more complex. In this set of pictures, we see A. and A. at the light table, using cups, mirrors, water cubes, and plastic forks to create an elaborate structure.  No words were used as they worked together.  Their movements quickly became synchronised and decisions agreed upon without speaking.Several times their structure fell and they began again to rebuild it.  The placing of the plastic forks at the top slowly, carefully and delicately carried out.For one child this activity became an entry point into a new friendship.  Through relating to these new materials, for the first time he began to relate to another.  It is a wonderful example of Piaget’s theory that peer interactions play a crucial role in the construction of both social and intellectual competence.

I am so excited! I had my very first week at Richland Academy and what a wonderful experience it was!

As Assistant Head of School, I was invited to visit every classroom and was able to engage in some lovely conversations shared throughout.

  • Gr. 3: M. said “Having my own locker is cool!”
  • Gr. 5:  A. “Loved eating in the café!”
  • SK: L. “I love this school!”

I have to admit that I also share the same sentiments! It is my absolute pleasure to be part of an incredible community founded on great morals, values and of course intertwined within the Reggio philosophy.I wish everyone a terrific and joyous year ahead!

We are days away from the first day of school, and thought this would be a great time to recommend some apps for freshening your devices and supporting digital learning.  We were impressed with this list from teachthought.com because it suggests apps that encourage creation, and not just consumption, of content.

We would love to hear from you too!  Do you have any apps you would recommend?


As Reggio-inspired educators, we recognize the influence the environment has on learning.  Within the Reggio philosophy, the environment is considered the Third Teacher, it’s impact is so profound.  As we create our spaces for children, the challenge is often in the translation of theory into practice, and the deliberation over choosing and then arranging furnishings and materials to create an environment conducive to discovery, learning and building relationships.

The environment is recognised for its potential to inspire children. An environment filled with natural light, order and beauty. Open spaces free from clutter, where every material is considered for its purpose, every corner is ever-evolving to encourage children to delve deeper and deeper into their interests.  The space encourages collaboration, communication and exploration. The space respects children as capable by providing them with authentic materials & tools. The space is cared for by the children and the adults.” ~ from An Everyday Story, a favourite Reggio-inspired blog

This week, Richland Faculty have been immersed in their spaces and have been busy consulting with each other on design aspects that honour the Reggio philosophy.  This process transpires annually as Faculty create spaces for their next class, but this has been made all the more exciting this year because at Richland we are opening our 20,000 square foot expansion that includes 12 new classrooms.  Richland’s new school design offers larger, open and interconnected spaces for learning, full of light and other natural elements. Interior window walls and doors will extend the illumination. The hallways will be galleries to share the children’s work — the tangible products of their projects as well as their stories and reflections on their research. Inspired by the Reggio Emilia Philosophy, the design offers open, light-filled spaces connected to the ‘Piazza’, our community gathering area.

Here are some images from Natural Pod, a Canadian company that has produced much of the furnishings for Richland’s new space.We look forward to revealing Richland’s newly designed learning spaces over the coming weeks.  In the meantime, if you are an educator and looking for a starting place to create an inspiring classroom, we recommend the following link from playfullearning.net as an introduction.

Such a wonderful process to prepare spaces for learning ~ now all that remains is welcoming students for the beginning of the new school year.

As educators, we are very sensitive to the emotions surrounding the beginning of the school year, ranging from uncontained excitement and anticipation, to fear and anxiety about the unfamiliar.  For some, it is their first experience in a school setting; but even for those returning after the summer, the occasion is charged emotionally.

At school we are ready to welcome students and to support them as they adjust to the changes in their routine, and to the new relationships that await them. This time of discovery and new beginnings is such a wonderful one.

For parents, there are a number of ways to support children leading up to the first day of school.  I recently read an article from David McMillan entitled, Relationships: Preparing kids emotionally for school.  In it Mr. McMillan provides practical suggestions for supporting children, including the following:

  • Lead by example. When your kids talk about the emotions they are feeling about going back to school, do more than just let them talk and express their emotions. Try to get them talking about specifics about what they’ve enjoyed most during the summer and what they’ll miss. It is especially important for them to talk about what they may be nervous about in the coming school year and what they’re looking forward to. I encourage parents to offer the same of themselves; talk to your kids about how you feel about the transition, how you remember feeling at their age, and what you did then and do now to get yourself mentally ready for the coming school year.
  • Acknowledge mixed emotions. As the summer winds down and kids express disappointment or anxiety about the coming school year, it’s very easy to fall into the category of either “you don’t mean that! School is wonderful,” or “I’m dreading it, too.” It’s helpful to admit all sides of emotions — anxiety for the start of school, even though there may be parts they are really looking forward to, and missing the slower pace and summer fun.
  • Offer support and reassurance. Children need specific support and reassurance during transitions. The start of school is a new year, full of possibility, but also full of unknowns. Children need reminders and reassurances they are going to be OK and they will have parental support no matter what. Even children who love school and do well can benefit from this type of assurance.
  • Structure rules, expectations and consequences. Get clear with your children before the school year begins what your expectations are of them during the coming school year. Set a daily structure that can be followed throughout the school year that involves coming home, getting their homework, doing chores and daily rest.
  • Consistency. Follow a schedule as much as possible. Consistency is reassuring and motivating, especially for younger children. Follow an early morning and bedtime routine.

Going back to school is an important milestone in a child’s life.  Share in the excitement and create a memorable experience that they may one day share with their own children.

To read Mr. McMillan’s full posting from the Shreveport Times, please follow click here.


I recently came across a blog post from George Couros, Division Principal for Parkland School Division in Alberta.  The post was called, Why Are We Waiting for Tomorrow?  Essentially, sharing the idea that children are not simply with us to be molded into ‘effective leaders’ someday.  In fact, children can impact the world right here, right now.

This led me to reflect on the Reggio Emilia approach to learning, and the core of the philosophy, which is the Image of the Child.  The Reggio philosophy views children as curious, competent, and capable.  When children learn in a Reggio inspired environment, they are respected and act as co-constructors of their learning.  They have a genuine voice.

To quote Mr. Couros:

Words matter. Our expectations matter. If a kid makes a difference today, aren’t they more likely to do it tomorrow as well? There is no need to wait.

If you would like to read Mr. Couros’s blog post, please click here.

If you would like to learn more about the Reggio Emilia philosophy, please visit:


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