Lower Elementary School
What is Reggio Emilia?
It is a town in Italy that created pioneering schools for young children which have been so successful that Newsweek recognized them in their list of the ten best schools in the world. The approach these schools use is more of a philosophy than a set of rules or instructions.
Our Elementary School is Reggio-inspired
Our program has always been deeply grounded in the idea that children are naturally inquisitive, powerful, and rich in potential, and that they have an innate desire to grow and learn.
Learning is student-led
The curriculum is based upon the naturally-arising interests of the children. As with all age groups at Longview, there is a focus on building skills, and our talented teachers do so based upon the topics that emerge in the time spent with the children.
The word “project” does not do justice to the complexity of the Reggio idea of “progettazione.” This has been called emergent curriculum, meaning that much of what is studied emerges from the student’s experience. This typically happens in three primary areas.
First, there is the teacher, who knows what skills students should be learning in lower elementary school. As a result, teachers plan Foundational Projects, although how these are carried out is dependent upon the particular students in each class.
Second, there is the classroom; a room rich in materials naturally leads to discussions and activities of students which teachers skillfully guide into Environmental Projects related to construction, dress-up, books, crafts, etc.
Third, there is life at school; living and learning in a community, be it your class or the school as a whole, naturally leads to interactions that require figuring out your role in the world.
The creation and completion of projects require the use of thoughtful questioning by our expert teachers, who use reflective listening to help children to not only deeply question, but also to answer their own questions. This process is the foundation of scientific thinking; even at a young age, our students are learning the process of making hypotheses and testing them. As they do so, they are also learning essential skills, such as:
This process simulates what we all do in real life, which makes it a good example of authentic learning, one of the pillars of inquiry-based education.
Naturally Learning Responsibility
When you treat students with the highest level of respect, you believe in their ability to handle responsibility. At Longview, this starts in our Lower Elementary program.
Students learn to work out conflicts, in group and individual collaborative meetings where they learn skills such as listening to others, communicating their ideas and solving problems.
Families often initially question whether students have the ability to handle responsibilities like these at such a young age, but it is not long before they see how capable their children are, and how this carries over to handling responsibilities at home as well as at school.
At Longview, we expect students to struggle to act appropriately in classes and activities: that is just a typical part of growing up and adjusting to life in a school community. Since this is our expectation, we don’t rush to punish students when they misbehave; instead, we try to teach them the skills they lack so that they are more likely to behave well in the future.
To support this approach, we utilize the Conscious Discipline program developed by Dr. Becky Bailey. This is a program that teaches emotional intelligence; it is a relationship-based model of discipline.
Instead of trying to force children to behave, our teachers have learned to change themselves in order to change the way students respond to them.
Instead of being based upon rules and consequences, our teachers realize that relationships govern behavior, and so the positive relationships they develop with the students motivate the students to solve conflicts collaboratively.
Opportunity for growth
Instead of thinking that conflict is bad, our teachers see conflict as an opportunity for growth.
Classroom as a third teacher
A room by any other name is still a room…or is it? Longview’s Lower Elementary space is consciously designed by our staff so that the environment itself becomes one of the teachers.
- The space is for the students: from the furniture to the boards, everything is set up for use by the students who inhabit the space. The message is clear: this is your classroom in your school, a place you get to define because of how important you are.
- The space is comfortable and appealing to your senses. From use of essential oil diffusers, to offerings of healthy and natural snacks, to comfortable, child-height furniture, to tastefully-decorated walls and soft, natural-colored storage bins, everything has been purchased with you in mind.
- The space is adaptable: what is being learned is ever-varying, and so the room can be arranged and re-arranged as desired. When one set-up is no longer useful, it is changed.
- The space is used to display your work, with projects consciously left on display until new projects intentionally take their place.