From Italy to St. Louis

Two Lower School MICDS Teachers Search for Curriculum Inspiration Abroad.

If you could see through the eyes of a child, what would you see? How would you learn? For MICDS Junior Kindergarten students, learning happens through seeing, doing, thinking and exploring — through both inside and outside classroom spaces. For JK Teachers Ginny Otto and Bridget Wallace, a trip to Italy to participate in a Reggio Emilia International Children’s Center Study Tour was the perfect opportunity to take a closer look through their students’ lenses.

The Reggio Emilia Approach is an innovative and inspiring approach to early childhood education that values the child as strong, capable and resilient; rich with wonder and knowledge. Reggio Emilia believes every child brings with them deep curiosity and potential, and this innate curiosity drives their interest to understand their world and their place within it — values we share at MICDS.

For Reggio Emilia, the learning space is one of the keys that unlocks a child’s potential. “[The Reggio Emilia Approach] looks at an environment as the third teacher,” said Mrs. Otto. “It is important for teachers to construct an environment that is thought-provoking and aesthetically pleasing for students — spaces that encourage collaboration, communication and exploration.” Both Mrs. Otto and Wallace plan to apply this concept as they envision the JK indoor and outdoor learning spaces in the future.

The teachers also took with them an important reminder: that all children have the same curious nature and desire to learn, no matter their context. Mrs. Wallace shared, “Seeing similarities in how children learn best regardless of where they live was a wonderful reminder of how as humans we have so much in common.”

The professional development opportunity was made possible through funding provided by the Wilma and Roswell Messing Jr. ’34 Summer Sabbatical and the Thomas Family Fellowship.