Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Williamsburg Northside Schools: Shaping Young Minds into Independent Individuals

In a world of seven billion people, adults like you and me often find ourselves with an evading sense of self.  What separates us from our peers, our neighbors and even our family are our individual opinions, thoughts, and observations. Having a strong sense of individuality is essential for each one of us, be it a child or an adult.

A fundamental principle that Williamsburg Northside Schools stand on is that all children are born as independent individual beings, capable of thinking, observing, and forming their own opinions. Williamsburg Northside Schools comprise of the following four institutions:
  • Infant and toddler center (or the daycare)
  • Preschool
  • Lower school
  • Middle school (opening its doors in September 2018)

Starting with the child’s first step towards learning, Williamsburg Northside Schools aim at bringing out each child’s innate interests, opinions, and preferences. This is achieved by employing teaching techniques and creating a comprehensive curriculum based on the Reggio Emilia approach.

In the formative years of children, i.e. starting from when they are admitted to the infant and toddler center till they reach middle school – children are encouraged to voice their opinions, ideas, and suggestions. Their ideas and opinions or their concerns are addressed by the teachers and the children feel that their voice matters. Following is an important pillar of the Reggio Emilia approach through which children learn how to embrace individuality:

Documentation Techniques used by the Teacher 

A core principle of this approach is that teachers are not merely education providers – they are researchers. Along with the responsibility of providing education, the teachers take upon themselves the responsibility of carefully observing and documenting each child’s ideas, questions, interests, struggles and insights on a daily basis.

Documentation techniques implemented by teachers include collecting samples of children’s works, written anecdotes, written transcripts of children’s conversations, asking questions to gain knowledge about the kid’s curiosities, and video recordings. By the means of careful research, the teachers encourage students to make connections between their own ideas and reflect on the works done by them.

This allows teachers and parents to understand children on an individual level. It also enables the educators to comprehend the next steps to take with the students to enrich their sense of individuality.