Like the Children's Houses of Maria Montessori, the schools of Reggio and Emilia, Italy have built a pedagogy that is child directed, experiential, and filled with a rich variety of activities that lead towards the mastery of new skills. Additionally, the Reggio-Emilia approach places a high value on interconnected learning and self-expression. Here, the teacher is not just a guide, but also a learner. In this way, we can model the learning process and the growth mindset we hope to foster.
At Sprout and Spark, we open our artist's studio for the full duration of the three-hour work block. In the studio, students are taught the proper use of the medium just as they would be taught the proper use of the material's on the Montessori side of the classroom. Once a student has learned to use a material, it remains available to them on the art shelves. This gives our students the opportunity to express their ideas visually through pastel, finger paint, water color, pencil drawing, ink printing, clay and wire sculpting, found object sculpting, and mixed media.
Students may choose to work on individual projects of their own design or collaborate with their teachers and peers to create lasting installations that our school community can enjoy for years to come. When developing these projects, teachers take note of student interests and curiosities. We ask questions that we may not know the answer to and journey alongside the children to discover the answers.
In our first year, we hope to open our studio-classroom to two professional artists, one in the fall, and one in the spring. Our vision is that these artists will make use of our school grounds five days a week to work on their own personal projects while remaining available to assist our students with their own artistic endeavors. The artist will remain with the school for a period of 3 to 6 weeks, giving them ample time to connect with the students and share their expertise.
The philosophies of Maria Montessori and the schools of Reggio and Emilia have informed many of our practices at Sprout and Spark. We believe there is a third element to a well-rounded early childhood education. To learn about how we incorporate the teachings of Forest School, follow the link below.