The 100 Languages is a pivotal part of the Bear Park experience, as the Reggio Emilia metaphor for a child’s learning potential. It reminds us that there are endless ways and opportunities of self-expression outside the classical methods of writing and speaking. Children are capable of learning in many different ways, expressing their thoughts, theories and ideas confidently, all senses engaged and interested. Through this, learning can take place with honest curiosity and interest without the limitation of exclusively verbal or written skills. All of this contributes to a greater purpose of encouraging the child to feel comfortable and involved in their world. Founder of Reggio Emilia, Loris Malaguzzi, said it best when considering the importance of variety and resources in the learning story:
“Children need the freedom to appreciate the infinite resources of their hands, their eyes and their ears, the resources of forms, materials, sounds and colours.”
At Bear Park, every day is different, full of opportunities and discovery. Children can use paint, body movement, singing, percussion, poetry, recycled open ended materials, natural materials, storytelling and light projection to express their thoughts and opinions. The result is an educational adventure, of which the child is at the centre of, as empowered theorist, investigator, scientist and researcher.
One recent investigation at Bear Park Dilworth involved children in the Tui room (3 ½ to 5 year olds) and their focus towards a nearby pine tree. ‘The Skin of our Tree’ developed into a textural-sensual exploration. Children observed the tree in many ways. They used photography to capture images of the tree, allowing teachers to gain a deeper insight into their thought patterns. “Using technology for observation and inspiration is an effective tool”, says Katja, the Dilworth Centre Atelierista. The process encourages children to slow down and take notice of the finer details. They may use this information as inspiration for their drawings, merging observation, memory and imagination.” Clay was later used as a way to represent this tactile nature of the tree’s outer layers, as children figured out how to create “spiky, bumpy [skin] bark” with the material.
Essentially, the more confident a child is in expressing themselves through a variety of ways, the more prepared they will be to speak up and communicate ideas in later years.