Learning Resources

I draw my influence from a very wide range of sources, ideas, and philosophies about how young children learn. These include Attachment Parenting, Montessori, Waldorf, and Reggio, to name just a few. Below is an ever-evolving collection of those resources that I've found most useful as I try to fill our days with experiences that are meaningful, educational, and full of beauty.

(Note: books are listed in order of how useful I found them. So, if you have limited time for reading, start at the top of the list and work your way down. Websites and blogs are listed in no particular order.)

Reggio

Books:

     This is an incredibly practical book. It is especially useful for those who lack a background in the arts, but who want to use a variety of mediums (paint, clay, drawing materials) with their children. Concrete examples are given for how to introduce materials to young children and sample scripts are given of things for educators/parents to say to encourage exploration of the materials. Purchase.

      Many great, practical suggestions for how to set up your space to allow children the freedom to play and create. Advice for how to display materials and how to set up invitations. Some of the pictures are dated and it is geared for preschools, but easily adapted for the home. Borrow/Consider Purchasing.

Learning Together With Young Children: A Curriculum Framework for Reflective Teachers by Deb Curtis and Margie Carter
     This is somewhat of a sequel to Designs for Living, by the same author. Initially, I thought it wouldn't be very useful, as the opening chapters focus on challenges educators face in the classroom, but once they started talking about actual learning practices I found it to be very valuable. Practical suggestions about materials and basic guidelines on how to follow the child's interest and to stimulate them to fully explore their own ideas and questions. The most exciting chapters were those on how to coach children to learn about their own learning process (in other words, how to make their learning visible -- I hadn't thought of this before!) and how to help kids to "dig deeper" into their interests. Very exciting stuff that had me brimming with ideas and enthusiasm on how to do this at home. Borrow/Consider Purchasing.

     A quick read that provides a wonderful translation of what Reggio is by showing how it's practiced in American classrooms. It explains how and why observation is so important and gives great suggestions for documenting children's work. Again, geared for the school setting, but very easily adapted for the home. Borrow. 

     A very short book that documents how one group of toddlers and one group of infants were introduced to clay. Very detailed observations of what the teachers did and how the children interacted with one anther and with the art medium. Wonderful demonstration of how even very young children are able to work cooperatively if we give them the opportunity and the space to do so. A great guidebook if you're wanting to present clay to your little one. Borrow.

The Hundred Languages of Children: The Reggio Emilia Experience in Transformation edited by Carolyn Edwards, Lella Gandini, & George Forman.
     This is "the" book about Reggio. Very informative about the history and circumstances that gave rise to the Reggio approach, including interviews with key individuals. In all honesty, while this information is interesting, it is not at all necessary for the home educator. The most valuable thing about this book is the inclusion of three project examples in full detail. They are very inspiring and illustrate the wonderfully winding road that emergent curriculum can take. It also includes a chapter on a Reggio-inspired preschool for 2- and 3-year-olds. This was very helpful as most of these resources are geared for over-three's. The final summary gives a bullet-pointed summary of the multisymbolic approach to teaching, which is worth photocopying for future reference. Borrow.

Blogs:

An Everyday Story
Three Oaks
Play At Home Mom LLC
Paint Cut Paste



Waldorf

Books:

Heaven On Earth: A Handbook for Parents of Young Children by Sharifa Oppenheimer
     This is a wonderfully gentle and inspiring book. The fundamental premise is that learning takes place through physical activity and story. She presents a step-by-step model for creating open-ended indoor and outdoor play spaces. Also included are suggestions on how to create daily/weekly rhythms, creating a family culture, celebrations, and artistic explorations. I have implemented many of her ideas in our daily life (like her suggestions about the bedtime routine!) and they have made our days smoother and happier. I return to this one often. Purchase.

You Are Your Child's First Teacher: Encouraging Your Child's Natural Development From Birth To Age Six by Rahima Baldwin Dancy
     I pull this book out every time we are in a rocky patch and I think we're about to embark on a new level of development. It never fails to reassure me that our challenges are normal and I am reminded of the proactive things I can do to nourish a sense of rhythm, beauty, and wonder in our home. She tackles discipline, toilet training, early childhood education and weaning in addition to the more "Waldorf" topics of rhythm, creative play, developing artistic and musical ability. I find her writing to be incredibly balanced, practical and useful. Purchase.

Parenting For Peace: Raising the Next Generation of Peacemakers by Marcy Axness
     This book doesn't bill itself as a "Waldorf" book, but Axness is admittedly influenced by its philosophy and shares its perspective. You can read my full review of this book here, but the key take-away point is that we are all either in "growth mode" in which we feel safe and our minds and bodies are free and open to grow, or we're in "protection mode" in which all of our energies are redirected towards shielding ourselves from external stress and harm, stunting the development of our minds and bodies. The more we can do as parents to maximize the time our children are in growth mode, the more secure, and therefore peaceful, adults they will become. She gives us many ways in which to do this, but the most obvious (not necessarily the easiest to implement) is to live a life of example. This is another one I pick up and re-read as we face new challenges and stages. Purchase.

The Creative Family: How to Encourage Imagination and Nurture Family Connections by Amanda Blake Soule
     If you have spent even a brief amount of time clicking through mama blogs or Waldorf blogs, you most likely have ended up at Soule Mama. This book (you can read my full review here) is a gathering of the best-of-the-best ideas from traditional Waldorf resources that Soule re-interprets for a modern audience. It is best described as a book full of moments that she invites you to seek out and share with your children. Gratitude is huge in this text and there are numerous ideas here on how to incorporate it in your daily life. Also included are craft tutorials, ideas for celebrations, building community through craft, exploring nature and more. Purchase.


Seven Times the Sun

Beyond the Rainbow Bridge

Montessori

How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way


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