One of the major changes I’ve noticed in my practice since becoming interested in the Reggio Approach is the importance of slowing down, watching and listening. I think it’s one of the most challenging things for us to do. I used to think that I always needed to ask questions in order to guide discoveries. But the less I talk, the more I listen and the more the children show me how they think, what theories they have and how they make meaning of their world. Listening allows me to better understand what questions I need to ask or what materials or provocations I can provide that might extend their learning. Having said that, I also believe that it’s important for us to allow and encourage the children to slow down as well. There is a lot to be learned when children have time to engage with materials over extended periods of time.
In preparation for observing the beautiful changes that come with spring, I added some potted hyacinths and pussy willows to the studio. Last year, the children’s investigations around pussy willows led to a planting project which included beautifying our outdoor play space. Since I’m at a different school this year, I thought I would still use the pussy willows to provoke the children’s interest, but they seemed to be much more interested in the hyacinths. At first they touched and smelled them. Our classroom certainly had a natural air freshener for about a week! They did a number of drawings and returned to the hyacinths several times over a number of days. The children represented them in different ways. Some used markers, others used markers and paint, and a few decided to paint their representations at the easel.
It wasn’t until we went outside yesterday to take a look at what was happening in our garden that I really noticed the time the children took to represent their observations. They slowed themselves down to observe and the last thing I wanted to do was to rush them. Some drew, some drew and added words, and interestingly, one of the children who often needs encouragement when writing decided to represent his observations in writing! The children were excited to see that the “pyaz” they planted in the fall are now growing and blooming. Many of the children had the same question – how do flowers grow? I think the inquiry that began in the fall and “hibernated” throughout the winter is now reawakening interest in the children. And, like the blooming garden, its growth and beauty cannot be rushed.