Do we realise the immense potential of our kids’ day to day experiences? Sreeja shares the value of light and shadow as tools of learning.
“Look, I caught a rainbow,” screamed Aaryav with delight in our passageway leading to the class where a beautiful interaction of light and glass had created a rainbow effect. “And, I can make the rainbow vanish and appear again,” said Reyhan moving the glass door so that it didn’t stand in the path of the light to make the rainbow vanish and putting it back in place to make it reappear! Our children had been curiously exploring light and shadows for a while now and this was an out-of-the-class connected learning experience for them and us.
“Ma’am this star grows big when I move it away and becomes small when I move it closer,” observes Parinita as she plays with the shadows in the class.
We soon realized that our children’s interest in light and shadows doesn’t just stay in the class or in the school corridors; it extends into their day to day lives too.
“See these only let some light come through and so translucent, the other windows used to let all the light come through so transparent and when we have our own image come back to us it is a reflection and it becomes a mirror!”
One day, we received an unusual thank you note from one of our parents.
“Today I learnt the true difference between a traditional system and one that allows children to learn and explore on their own.” Just as we were wondering what might have happened, the rest of the message arrived. “We have just shifted into this new house and my son noticed the windows and said that they were different from the previous house we were in. I asked him, how so? He said, ” These windows are translucent and the previous ones were transparent.” Even as I was just rubbing my ears to make sure I heard that from my 5 year old son I asked him a follow-up question just to be sure, “What do you mean?” He went on unfazed, “See these only let some light come through and so translucent, the other windows used to let all the light come through so transparent and when we have our own image come back to us it is a reflection and it becomes a mirror!” I was truly amazed by the experience and how much he knew about light and how clearly he was able to explain it to me. I just wanted to share it with you.”
When children learn to play with light and shadows and a 100 more languages to understand the interactions, to wonder about the reasons behind the interactions and to appreciate the beauty in them, that is when they truly learn.
In the Reggio approach we believe that children have a 100 languages and you might wonder what are these 100 languages? A language is something that you use to express, to communicate, to connect, to explore, to learn and grow with and so much more. By that extension playing with blocks, sand, water, music, shadows, nature, patterns, letters, numbers, shapes, colours, people and so on are all languages in themselves.
We all learn different kinds of languages at different stages in our lives and the kind of fluency we gain in each language depends on the amount of interest, time and effort we put into each. Now imagine if children were restricted to only learn the language of letters and numbers what would happen to the language of imagination, exploration, interaction and movement? When children are in the environment that respects, stimulates and develops a variety of languages that is when wholesome child development begins to occur.
So which new language do you think you want to pick up today to start work in your class as a teacher or with your child at home as a parent?