When I started out this school i was so in love with all that I had learned about Reggio Emilia. Naturally I knew that I would be influenced in particular by my waldorf experiences but I absolutely loved the vibrancy and creativity of the Reggio Emilia schools.
Before school started I thought through every intricate aspect of each day. Then, when the kids arrived, it dawned on me that I didn’t have it quite right! I evaluated each day – what worked, what was kindof okay and what desperately needed to change. I quickly realised that the day was missing a rhythm that I couldn’t quite pinpoint. Then my waldorf experiences came back to me and I started to draw on them. Overnight, with the gentle songs and verses of morning circle, to the storytime at the end of the morning, I saw a shift in the children’s “work”. The had an inner calmness, which resulted in less conflict and more creativity!
Although I was seeing this collaboration between Reggio and Waldorf work, I must admit I was torn. I had my heart set on a “true” Reggio Emilia influenced school and in my mind this was what I was working away from. And, yes my learning path did pull me away from the more Reggio influenced classroom…..for a while. I noticed that, over the past year, I have needed to really focus on the Waldorf style to create the daily and seasonal rhythm. Through this the children seem to have developed a sense of security and familiarity. I then started introducing the more formal Montessori style, initially teaching daily living skills and graduating to sorting and sensory awareness.
Earlier this year I felt confident to relaunch into the Reggio inspired approach. I reread all of my books and reassessed our classroom to ensure it was truly accessible to the children. We then started an exploration of materials followed by (and including) a discussion in letter writing and messages.
The Reggio influence seems much more possible for me now, a year into the school, then it did initially. But, I have been asked whether I would like to “drop the Waldorf” now. Which seems like a valid question, since I initially had my heart set on a truly Reggio influenced school. However, it now seems strange to separate philosophies, or approaches. The rhythm in our school belongs to our school. It is a unique collaboration based on all three teaching approaches. It has evolved over time to suit the unique school that I run. It works for us, but I am sure it will also continue to evolve, just as we do. Different children express different needs, and I truly believe (now!) that by opening up myself to the possibility of collaborating between different philosophies I can better attempt to meet these needs.