Our Infant room is one of the most relaxing, calming, hectic and exciting rooms in our school (just depends on the time of day, ha!)
The elements of light, transparency and natural materials are strongly valued in our Infant room and observing their natural curiosity at such a young age routinely amazes us.
One day we set up an activity that focused on sensory experience by having the children paint a mural to hang in the Infant room. At this age, it is important to encourage curiosity and to provide the children with opportunity to achieve new skills. We believe that infants are active learners who demonstrate various ways of knowing, doing, and learning through their multiple ways of communicating.
In the photos below, you will see examples of how stimulating learning opportunities are created for our young learners. You can see how the children are observing and exploring with the paint, paint brushes, cloth, themselves, and each other. One child splashed some paint on her toes and she could not stop staring at her feet. The child recognized that this color difference on her body was an unusual change.
Some of the children were hesitant to experiment with the paint and brushes while others immersed themselves in the activity right away.
Our role in this activity was simple. We didn’t limit the children to paint a certain design, paint inside the lines, or even paint at all. We engaged them in the activity by vocalizing and describing what was occurring, observing the children explore the materials, and encouraging the adventure. We observe closely to understand and respond to the cues of infants. They are worth listening to even if it is not with words. This again is an example of how the Reggio Emilia approach values the “languages” of children. Our infants speak to us with the cues we observe as they are exploring. This type of positive reinforcement is beneficial with infants, especially when introducing a new experience. Our goal is to be a co-learner and collaborator, not just an instructor. One of the most challenging conceptions of teacher competence and developmentally appropriate practice with the Reggio Emilia philosophy is to allow children to question and purposely allow mistakes to happen. One of John Dewey’s famous quotes was, “We only think when confronted with a problem”.
Our purpose in this activity was to expand and encourage their experience, curiosity and imagination, not hinder it.
Below is the final product: