When I wrote up our trip to Ipswich Art Gallery the other day, I mentioned that I’ve been spending a lot of time learning about the educational history and philosophy of the Reggio Emilia approach. This is an absolutely HUGE topic, with an amazing background, but there are some elements which consistently stand out to me.
One of these is the understanding that children are capable, that they are interested in the world and that they can construct their own learning. Often this is demonstrated through the use of projects, initiated by the children and mentored by the adults working with them. Other times children are given a chance to explore through provocations.
Provocations: deliberate and thoughtful decisions made by the teacher to extend the ideas of the children.Journey Into Early Childhood
There’s some wonderful things being written about provocations out there – one of my very favourites is from An Everyday Story (go check out the whole wonderful blog) which talks through how to set up a Reggio-inspired activity. You can also find more information here and here. But although I’ve seen gorgeous provocations for older children, I’ve seen less for children around Squirm’s age (12 months).
So, once again, I turn back to An Everyday Story to think about provocations for Squirm – there’s my guiding principal, right at the top of the Activity page – “What have they been wondering about?”
Squirm is pre verbal, so working out his wonderings is based entirely on observation. And when I started observing, I started noticing a lot! Squirm in interested in so many things, meaning that there are many, many provocations I could set up for him to enjoy.
And there’s my plan – to aim to set up a provocation each week, adjusting them and building on them as Squirm explores. As each week draws to a close, I hope to blog about them, to share the explorations, wonderings and learning that come out of them. I have no doubt that some weeks will be more successful than others, but I’m also mindful that the provocations won’t always be Big Things – that sometimes they’ll be a walk to a new place, or a slight change in a successful provocation from before. And finally, it’s important to me that these provocations are open ended, that they encourage a sense of wonder and fun, that they don’t become overly structured or prescriptive.
I think it will be a challenge. But I also think it will be a lot of fun. I’m really looking forward to learning more about Squirm and the world over the next 52 weeks :)