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Nau Mai Haere mai. Welcome to Mairtown Kindergarten's blog.

21 Princes Street, Kensington, Whangarei, New Zealand

Phone: 09 437 2742

Email: mairtown@nka.org.nz

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Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Melbourne Study Tour Overview

Last week I was lucky enough to take part in a study tour over in Melbourne. This was an event for teachers organised by REANZ (Reggio Emilia Aotearoa New Zealand) and was a truly valuable and inspiring tour for me, which also provoked and, at times, challenged my thinking.

Myself and the rest of the NKA teachers after a  days seminar at Melbourne University

To give a little background, Reggio Emilia is a city in Italy, which has become synonymous for it's quality of early childhood education. As a teaching philosophy, at Mairtown, we draw from many aspects of the Reggio Emilia approach.  This unique approach to early childhood education was founded by Loris Malaguzzi, a teacher himself, along with the parents of the villages around Reggio Emilia shortly after after World War II.  After the destruction of their villages and homes in the war, Malaguzzi and the rest of the community felt they needed to educate their children in a different manner. Their aim was to encourage a higher level of critical thinking, exploration and discovery through principles of respect, responsibility, and community in a supportive and enriching environment based on the interests of the children.

Waiting for a tram - we did a great deal of this!

A display at one of the centres we visited
So began our tour! I was lucky enough to be travelling with 5 other teachers from the Northland Kindergarten Association, who proved to be totally invaluable for end of day discussions and reflections on what we had seen/heard (as well of course as being great dinner and shopping partners!).

Some collaborative art work by 4 year olds
Over the course of the five days we were kept busy and our brains stimulated. We engaged in talks by Margo Hobba and Chris Celada on pedagogical documentation from the University of Melbourne; as well as having the opportunity to visit four early childhood centres (Cornish College, Pope Road Kindergarten, St Michaels Grammar School and Abbotsford early learning centre), as well as the beautiful children’s botanic gardens in Melbourne.

Aesthetics and providing children with beautiful environments is an important aspect of the Reggio Emilia Philosophy, and certainly all the centres we visited had created stunning classrooms which had been carefully considered by the teachers there.

"Children are miracles...we must make it our job to create, with reverence and gratitude, a space that is worthy of a miracle"
 (Anita Rui Olds)

The diversity of the centres we visited, along with the passion of our speakers truly made this tour very memorable; I know that there is so much I have gained that will be with me forever. I have returned to Mairtown keen to share my experiences with an added enthusiasm and inspiration for providing the children here with the best possible teaching I can.

"This is a gifted child for whom we need a gifted teacher...a co-constructor of knowledge, values and understanding together with children; a cultured curious person which means an inveterate border crosser, a researcher with an enquiring and critical mind" (Malaguzzi).

Display of worry dolls
Use of natural open ended materials on a light table
This blog post, although looking lengthy (!) doesn’t really do justice to the study tour, so I have put together a small book which is on display at Kindergarten. If you would like to know more, and remember I would love to share my experiences with you, please feel free to come and ask me any questions you may have.


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