Bright Start is a Reggio-inspired & innovative early childhood education program in Santa Barbara, CA.
The Reggio Approach is an educational philosophy and pedagogy based on Social- Constructivist Theory. It focuses on experiential learning in relation to the environment and materials. Viewing children as capable beings with knowledge, they have the potential to construct their own learning by themselves and with their peers. Children are part of a social system involving families, schools, and communities. They utilize various forms of communication to understand the world around them (The Hundred Languages-theory).
The Hundred Languages– Multiple languages and disciplines of rich & varied materials are offered at Bright Start in an environment that supports relationships and is conducive for exploration, investigation, expression, and construction. Children gain experience working with: clay, wire, weaving, painting, drawing, sculpting, digital technologies, darkroom, photography & filming, wood, natural materials, ecology/nature, water & conservation, dance, movement, music, story telling, theater, building/construction, literacy/numeracy, and coding, among others.
The Atelier (Art Studio) is a separate studio where The Hundred Languages are explored by children’s collective thinking and research. The Atelier welcomes all children to engage in touching, banging, stretching, molding, tracing, shaping, reflecting, and transforming materials to express through them their ideas. The Atelier practices also permeate all of the environments and classrooms—becoming a living & thriving atelier culture throughout the school.
The Digital Atelier is another studio space where children investigate light & shadow and use various digital technologies. It is in this space children get to explore various digital environments offering a different perspective through a myriad of digital tools. This space also enhances creativity as children design slow motion movies, digital environments, among others.
Documentation– Teachers are in partnership with the children and provide appropriate questions for further exploration and research. The teachers utilize documentation to understand how children learn and perceive the world. Documentation makes children’s ideas visible and invites reflection of the children’s learning processes. A learning path emerges as children solve different problems among the group. As these problems get revisited and discussed, multiple perspectives and ideas are formed in this process, stimulating deeper learning, questioning and collaboration.
The Environment as ‘Third Teacher’– At Bright Start we acknowledge the significance of materials, spaces, interactions, and esthetics of the school’s learning environments. These environments encourage exploration, connection, communication, discovery, and relationships, where objects and materials are beautifully and purposefully arranged.
We deeply value building strong connections between families and school.
Our aim as a learning community is to support everyone’s wellbeing. Bright Start is part of the West Coast Collaborative, a group of 5 Reggio Emilia inspired preschools, the other 4 located in Los Angeles, in dialogue with communities, families, and teachers to forge cultures of progressive education. Together with Tiziana Filippini and Reggio Children we have been in dialogue and consultancy for the past 4 years.
Professional Development is the cornerstone of our practice.
Our qualified teaching staff help children develop self-reliance, creativity, conflict resolution, critical thinking, and deep connections to each other, their environment and the natural world. We also provide additional enrichment classes to the children, such as dance, music, and Spanish. Bright Start offers bi-monthly parent-community meetings to discuss relevant topics.
Collaborative Learning– Bright Start believes that the children have the right to be heard, seen, and valued. We believe learning occurs in relationships with children, adults, the environment and materials. This collaborative learning process brings democratic values in the context of a community of equals that support justice, respect, trust, empowerment, and empathy. Working in groups establishes a learning culture of shared research and objectives. Children negotiate agreements, ideas, knowledge, different perspectives, intentions, and feelings. The ‘group culture’ fosters trust, enabling children to talk about their difficulties and find support from their peers.
Emotional Literacy helps children understand all of their feelings & supports self-regulation. Bright Start values kindness and compassion to communicate and children learn mindfulness strategies to work with big emotions.
Ecological Thinking– Our school has six different outdoor environments that support connection to nature with an abundance of fruit trees & plants that attract butterflies, hummingbirds, bees, and insects. Our plants harvest year-round, connecting living organisms with children’s explorations and supporting their relationship with the natural world. These intentional interactions show children our interconnectedness to everything while preparing them to become stewards of the environment as they learn how to co-exist with the natural world.