What initially drew me to the Reggio-inspired early childhood education was how closely its idea of project-based learning lined up with what I've found most exciting in my own journey through education. A beginning interest in, say, knitting can lead to discussion of so many topics. There's the actual craft itself, but also explorations around the different kinds of yarn fibers, how they're gathered, processed, and dyed. Questions about patterns, their traditions and place in society. Issues about gender and labor. It's impossible to tell from the outset just where you will end up and that's something that I get really jazzed about.
As I'm starting to dip my toes in by setting up invitations to learning for Silas I have to remember one very key point: I have to release my attachment to where I think the exploration "should" go. I do my best to observe him as he does the important work of playing so that I can brainstorm ways to stimulate him to make connections, ask questions, and try things out, but I also have to keep in mind that these are all just guesses. I have to trust that he knows what he needs. When I spend a lot of time and effort in researching and preparing something for him, it's so easy to get attached to the idea of how I think he should interact with the invitation. I'm constantly having to remind myself to let go and to remember that I am the follower here. This is all supposed to be child-led.
We mixed up a batch of coffee play dough and I had some notions of what I thought Silas might like to explore with it. I was completely wrong. He wanted to make pancakes and animal tracks. So, I took a deep breath, released my expectations and simply enjoyed the moment. And it was divine.