Sightlines Initiative

promoting creative and reflective practice in early childhood education

Learning Together at Home

from 'Traps & Tenderness': Viviana & Federico

Dear parents/ carers, and educators

We are beginning a  series of blogs and exchanges which will help support families and children learning together at home.

 Through these blogs we aim to provide an inspiring resource to families, so that home learning can be an exciting and joyful experience. The blogs will appear once a week on our website and on social media, and will include some ideas for you and your children to explore at home.We would like to share experiences of children and families in the blogs and invite you to participate by sending us your photographs, videos, notes from your family explorations. We'd be able to share some of your experiences on our blogs and on our social media pages – this will all help build a lively picture of parents and children around the country imaginatively exploring, learning and being together. We are in an enforced situation, but we can maximise the joy and playfulness and new perspectives which are hidden in our everydays. 

Some of the things we anticipate that the explorations will include are:

- working with different learning spaces at home (including the kitchen)

- materials and imagination

- story telling

- den building

- dressing up

- working with children's questions and ideas. 

Click HERE  to go to the page on our website where you can subscribe to our blogs post and also sign up to participate in sharing your s and your children's' experiences. 

Even over the Easter weekend, we have had some lovely early responses to the suggested first focus 'Out of the Window' and will be sharing these soon.

painting by Jaweria Sethi, director of Edopia School, Pakistan, April 2020

Out of the Window

Look out of your window: -  Draw a picture of what you can see – either the whole view or something in particular that you like. Tell us about your drawing: what can you see? How does it make you feel? 

We plan to share and develop this theme,, as the responses to this open invitation come in, and to offer - and to get - further suggestions. 

Traps & Tenderness

Here's an example of a mother and son exploring, reflecting and learning together: a holiday occasion brought  back and built upon at home, which gave everyone much  intrigue,  learning. and satisfaction.

You can read it on our website HERE.

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Imagine a forest

"Trees give the earth life and beauty." (Laura, 5 years old)

Children and educators of the city of Reggio Emilia's preschools and infant-toddler centres  have been celebrating the centenary of the birth of Professor Loris Malaguzzi , father of the Reggio Emilia Approach, with  an imaginative and insightful study on trees. It is on display in 77 shops in the town centre - here is a video presentation for those of us who are not yet visiting the centre and appreciating it first-hand:

The future of the planet and the defence of the environment are among the themes of a true world emergency and among the most "felt" by children and young people.

The children relate with innate empathy to the natural world, they wonder about what can be considered "living" and what are the elements that unite and distinguish all living beings.
The "Imagine a forest" project was born out of these children's questions and their desire to understand the natural world.
The protagonists are children, trees and the language of graphics.
The trees representing the vast world of living subjects who inhabit the Earth together with us. Trees, which children and humanity must learn to respect, love, perceive as plant brothers, recognising them as fundamental for the survival of the planet.

© Preschools and kindergartens - Institution of the Municipality of Reggio Emilia and Reggio Children 

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Japan-UK Early Childhood Education Dialogues

I am just back from encounters with a network of early childhood educators in Yamanashi prefecture, a large district to the West of Tokyo.

The plan has grown over conversations spanning a few years, following Professor Asami Akiyama's participation in a Sightlines Initiative Reggio Study group some years ago. We have been able to have good discussions during this time, as she has been doing research at Newcastle. We discussed many things, including the action-research projects of Sightlines (in 2018 we held an online seminar on 'Adventuring in Early Childhood Education') the varying fortunes of early childhood education in the UK, governments' general attitudes to education and creating autonomous professional development movements.

Professor Akiyama is involved with a network of early childhood educators in the district of Yamanashi, and also working to influence the direction of the Prefecture's early childhood policy and services, and her invitation was intended to help shift thinking and practice. From my perspective it was a wonderful opportunity to test out how our work and principles would be examined by an entirely fresh group of educators, and also to begin to discover how this new-to-me culture valued children, and education.

For me, it has been extremely energising, refreshing and reassuring to encounter early childhood services - I was able to visit three centres of different types – and the network group – which weren't ground down by effects of egregious government policy.Consistently I met with happy places and people – children, educators, parents. The educators and schools were all in their different ways committed, grounded, researchful, curious and above all loving and humane with their children and their overall intents. A phrase from the UK Children's Act came to mind – 'the welfare of the children is paramount' – would that were actually the case in the UK. We have all learnt much from the encounter so far, and are motivated to continue and develop further. 

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