“This Kindergarten is Me”
Following a visit to Italy as part of the Reggio Emilia project which constitutes the educational outlook for preschoolers in that region, IDE was inspired to create an innovative model for preschools. The Italian model suggests an outlook according to which personality is formed during children’s early years when they are endowed with “100 languages” through which they can express their ideas. This child-centered approach encourages children to use these symbolic languages (eg., painting, sculpting, drama) in everyday life.
IDE used this concept to create similar educational models for all of the preschools in Ramat Gan.
Within the framework of This Kindergarten is Me preschoolers design their own preschool surroundings. The pedagogic thought behind the project focuses on the development of the individual and includes four main principles:
- To arouse curiosity via multisensory experimentation, internal and external dialogue, observation, and use of technology
- To promote initiation via inventing games, creating content, designing spaces, and work according to stages
- To enable self-realization via various fields of interest, personal spaces, and operation through free choice
- To create a feeling of belonging which encourages social interaction and team work
Examples of initiatives that were established by the children in their preschools include: the outer space initiative, the beauty parlor initiative, conflict management without adult intervention, and a music project.
Fulfillment of these principles enables preschoolers to build “spaces of independence” that provide them with opportunities to influence their daily routine and work inside the spaces. Members of staff are full partners in the process and undergo educational training in the approach which includes thinking about the space, research and learning, and planning and implementation of content together with the children.
The process takes place first with the municipal educational staff, in order to create a model which suits the city, in conjunction with the steering and management committees of the city and IDE, and it then moves to the preschool teachers themselves. Creation of the model is a participatory process which takes place in the field and is not predetermined or dictated from above. The heart of the concept is to turn the children into active citizens who are proactive within their preschools.
The project is operative in all of the preschools in Ramat Gan.