This inquiry came out of our desire to instil a sense of wonder in children, a love of learning and a resilience that would help them thrive in school. When we encountered Reggio Emilia’s philosophy a few years ago during an exhibition in New Westminster we were impressed by the humanity with which they treat children, their sense of wonder, respect for the environment and for the children. Thus, we wanted to see more of this in our classroom. Although we were able to slowly move towards this philosophy, we found many challenges. This brought us to visit 2 kindergarten classrooms at Annieville Elementary School in Delta School District. They shared a big space (one room) and inspired us to bring together our two kindergarten classrooms by creating one big indoor space for 42 students and, most importantly, taking our learning outside. We hoped to create a space, where children would be allowed to wonder, to create, to express themselves through stories, drawings, movement, painting, singing and dancing; we wanted to develop together a connection with nature, by making our forest the extension of our classroom, our second home.
During this inquiry, we reshaped our image of the child many times and learned to trust ourselves in following the children’s lead. For instance, their exploration with their bodies in the small forest in our schoolyard took longer than expected, their perception of space and safety was different than ours. At times, we struggled with looking and listening closely to the many languages of our students, but by reflecting on our experience, we realized that these struggles helped us dig deeper into children’s curiosities and found that they indeed developed a connection with nature.
Looking back at our experience, we realized that what impacted our teaching the most was taking the time to respect and meet the children where they are. We learned to have patience and to look for the story. We learned as much as the children to wonder together, to ask the right questions and set up provocations, to let go and wait and trust the children. Together we learned the steps to a new dance.