The Reggio Emilia pedagogy considers a student’s environment to be a principal factor in how they learn. It is often referred to as ‘the third teacher’, because it is designed intentionally to inspire curiosity, creativity and joy. Put simply, if a space is beautiful and engaging, students and teachers are more engaged in the process of constructing knowledge together and that experience leads not only to better retention of that knowledge, but also to the nurturing of a love of learning for life.
Reggio schools are designed very intentionally. The colors, the furniture, the materials in each classroom, the tools and resources available to the students all have a defined purpose: to facilitate their exploration and inquiry and to get them excited about learning. A special place in every Reggio school is the atelier. The atelier is a laboratory of sorts; a place full of a variety of materials, mediums and tools that allow students to further their inquiries, explore new ideas and express themselves. Loris Malaguzzi believed that children have ‘100 Languages’ or more with which to express themselves. In an atelier, they might use art, music, graphic design, coding and tinkering, among other things, to illustrate their learning.
The atelierista plays a key role in the overall curriculum. The atelierista is a professional with unique expertise who supports their atelier and collaborates with other teachers to provide a space and materials for students to continue their inquiry into certain topics in the atelier. For example, a musician in the Music atelier; an industrial designer in the Design Tech atelier; an artist in the Art atelier and environmentalist in the Garden atelier. They work with homeroom and subject teachers to assist them in designing projects that will facilitate connections between the concepts being covered in the classrooms. For example, a study of the water cycle may be introduced by reading a book in a classroom; it may then be demonstrated in the garden atelier, illustrated in art class and written about in language class.
The greatest benefit of the ateliers for La Scuola students is that they provide them ample space to develop their ideas and become confident in tackling the unknown. Our students enjoy asking tough questions and relish in the search for answers. They love working together with their peers, teachers and the atelieristi to express themselves in a myriad of ways. In doing so, they learn how to work with diverse perspectives and skills and develop a genuine interest in tackling problems to make change possible.
The music program at La Scuola goes beyond teaching students to listen to music and play instruments: they also learn about history, culture, literature, geography, and science through music. When our students play music, their focus is on the process of creating music together, rather than on the song they produce.
Students develop their appreciation for music through listening, singing, playing instruments and by creating their own musical compositions.
Our graduates speak the language of music—it is one more tool they have to express themselves. And when they make music together, they witness the beauty and impact of collaboration and the benefit of diversity.
Gardening & Environmental Studies
The La Scuola garden program provides students with a unique opportunity to be in the environment when learning about the environment. They practice empathy and touch, feel, and experience science, and math first-hand. They feel a duty to steward the planet and to help others do so, too.
The natural environment quite often provides children with the spontaneity and surprise that leads to new cognitive pathways, curiosities and a sense of wonder. During the lessons in our garden, students explore gardening practices, identification of plants and vegetables, as well as common garden visitors like hummingbirds, butterflies and bees. Through a multi-sensory relationship to the garden, children gain an understanding of the ecology, the cycle of food production, and consumption, and a strengthened sense of stewards toward their community.
Our graduates understand the interdependence of nature and how that collaborative, inter-dependent web extends to other aspects of their life— and to other lives around the world.
We view Tinkering as a pedagogy, not just an activity.
Students deeply engage in the investigation of scientific phenomena and mathematics in our tinkering program. The tinkering lab is an immersive, active, creative and constructivist learning space that honors student inquiry and ingenuity. Tasks and challenges assigned to students are planned with intentionality in mind as they have a purpose and are connected to units of focus.
Students begin in the younger years with tinkering, and develop into using more sophisticated design techniques, processes and software to bring their ideas to life. From modeling, to coding, students work through a wide range of design principles and mediums.
Our graduates leave with a deep understanding of the importance of design and technology in our daily lives and the ability to apply design thinking to everyday challenges.
The Visual Arts
Art is an essential part of a La Scuola education and utilized daily as a means for students to express themselves and demonstrate their learning. For many students, artistic expression can be as powerful—if not more powerful—than spoken or written communication.
Students develop knowledge and understanding of the Arts in society, both from a historical and cultural perspective. They explore different media and techniques as they respond to what they have learned. The Visual Arts atelier allows them to engage in creating their own works of art as they develop as artists in their own right.
Our graduates speak the language of art—it is one more tool they have to express themselves. And because they’re fluent in the language of art, they speak it creatively, confidently, and compellingly.
While not an Atelier subject, Physical Education lessons support the units of inquiry that are so foundational to the La Scuola experience. In Physical Education classes, students develop an understanding of the factors that contribute to developing and maintaining a balanced, healthy lifestyle and the importance of regular physical activity and safety considerations for self and others. Students explore the following strands: Movement Composition, Individual Pursuits, Adventure Challenge, Games and Health-related fitness. Learning Outcomes are organized in developmental phases within the Scope and Sequence document.