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Certified PreK-6. Masters in Child Development. Advocate for play, teacher & children choice, & the family's voice. Believe in volunteering as social justice.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Space for Wonder and Risk and Relationship

I've been filled with many emotions (awe, anxiety, excitement, guilt, disbelief, un-certantity, and drive to name a few!) since accepting and starting my new job.  I'm going to put those emotions on the back burner and reflect on them in a later post.  (Especially the guilt and the disbelief; I've never had access to so many resources in a school I've worked at before.)

The studio space on my first day.

But those reflections are for another day.  Today I have been thinking about a lot about the studio space that I am responsible for maintaing in our Reggio-Inspired nursery school.   I've set up many early childhood classrooms; this space is different.  The studio is not a classroom and is not owned by one teacher/teaching team and class of students.

Shelves above the sinks. I place items that I hope the children and teachers  will view as beautiful and inspiring.
The studio is a collaborative space for the school community.  This idea that the studio is a community place was one of the driving forces behind the decisions I made in preparing the space for the beginning of the school year.  I want this space to be a place where all of our little students and their teachers can feel wonder and joy and curiosity.  I want them to feel compelled to touch the materials, to look up and marvel at the items above, beside, and below them, and to feel safe in taking risks and trying new things.

The studio is not a traditional classroom.  It will not be used in traditional ways.  In the studio I will work with small groups of little learners between the ages of 2 and 5 for varying amounts of time.  Some work will be projects that last for extended periods of time and involve many people contributing to their evolution.  Some projects may last only a moment and be captured only by photo.  Some work will be experimenting and tinkering and playing with space and objects in unexpected ways.  Some work will be left and returned to when the child is ready.  Some work will be left and never returned to, but perhaps adopted for play by another child.

Though I will be working with 2 year olds in the space two days a week for an extended time period, I am trying to challenge them and myself to play in new ways.  And so, even though it was offered, I turned down typical dramatic play furniture and instead am starting the year with large boxes with stools and baskets of fabric inside.
I don't yet know all of the possibilities that the studio will provide.  I do know that I will try to be observant and reflective and intentional in the ways in which I maintain the space.  I will use the space and my relationships with the children and other teachers to challenge and question and inspire new ways of looking at the world.

I made a decision not to put chairs in the studio.  Instead I set the tables low and am stacking carpet squares along the wall in a hope that the children won't feel chained to a particular spot, but will feel free to move around as the work beckons.  Should our work lend itself to it, I will raise the table legs and create an elevated space that we can stand around.  

And so the studio may be set up to welcome children, families and teachers to the beginning of the year, but it is not done.  It will never be done.  It will be always evolving and adapting as we use it for our own risk taking and learning.

1 comment:

  1. Love that you are encouraging them to get to know themselves in this beautiful space. Your students are very lucky. Enjoy your resources without guilt. Congratulations.