Students explore early childhood programs during field experience

Education students at Madison Childrens' Museum

Thirteen University of Wisconsin-Platteville School of Education students recently explored different early childhood programs during a field excursion to the Madison Public Library, the Overture Center and the Children’s Museum, all located in Madison, Wisconsin.

Students are enrolled in the Pre-K Methods for Cognitive Development course, taught by Dr. Wonim Son, an associate professor in the School of Education at UW-Platteville.

At the Madison Public Library and the Overture Center, students viewed different portions of “The Wonder of Learning - Wisconsin 2019: Opening Doors to Early Learning” exhibition from the world-renowned schools of Reggio Emilia in Italy. Students viewed and reflected on different aspects of the display, including “Dialogues with Places,” “Dialogues with Materials,” “The Enchantment of Writing,” the “Ray of Light” project and “Ideas and Projects.”

The Reggio Emilia educational philosophy, developed after World War II by Loris Malaguzzi and parents in the Reggio Emilia, Italy, is student-centered and encourages children to learn about the world around them through art, music, play, drama and literacy. The goal of the exhibition is to “help inspire parents, educators and other advocates for children to better understand the powerful learning that occurs in the early childhood years.”

At the Children’s Museum, students explored various exhibits, including the “Art Studio,” “Community Concourse,” “Wildernest,” “From Coops to Cathedrals” and “Rooftop Ramble.”

“This field trip was all about authentic in-depth projects, young children’s active play and creative minds,” said Son. “By visiting these different program sections, students were able to reinforce their learning about the Reggio Emilia approach. For example, the exhibits taught the students how to incorporate creative art, play, recycling materials, nature and scientific experimentation into applicable methods that can be used with young children.”

“Having the opportunity to see how big of an impact creativity and student-led curriculum has on children was fascinating to see,” said Shelby Skiles, an elementary education major with a minor in early childhood education and inclusion from Savanna, Illinois. “The examples displayed in the exhibit are great tools for my peers and I to use in the classroom, especially since they are all natural or recycled materials. This educational philosophy is definitely something I would love to incorporate into my future classroom.”

Regarding the importance of the trip, Son said, “These experiences will equip teacher candidates with the knowledge, skills and disposition of inquiry learning and thematic curriculum. I hope that this enables our students to provide their future classrooms with more hands-on learning so that children can learn better through curious exploration in a safe and risk-free environment.”

Student participants included: Skiles, Julia Fischer, Mariah Gaffney, Taylor Gerlach, Lyndsey Holl, Mary Ann Klar, Megan Klein, Alex Lang, Robyn Maxey, Kaelyn Merkle, Courtney Miess, Michaela Miller and Paige Schnulle.