What inspires the Art Center’s approach to the visual arts?

April 11th, 2015

The child has a hundred languages. –Loris Malaguzzi, founder Reggio Emilia Approach

Not often mentioned but essential to what we do every day at the Art Center is our foundation in the Reggio Emila approach to education. The following article is adapted from the website for the North American Reggio Emilia Alliance, an organization that supports educators using this approach.

The Reggio Emilia philosophy and approach to early childhood education has developed and continues to evolve as a result of over forty years of experience within a system of municipal infant-toddler centers and preschools in Reggio Emilia, Italy. Parents, who started the schools in the 1940s, continue to participate to ensure the schools reflect the values of the community.

From the beginning, the late Loris Malaguzzi, leader, philosopher and innovator in education, who was then a young teacher, guided and directed the energies of those parents and several teachers. Through many years of work with them, he developed an education based on relationship, which has become widely known and valued.

This philosophy and approach does not refer to a specific early childhood method or set curriculum, but rather a deep knowledge in theory and community-constructed values that have been and are continuously being translated into high quality early childhood practices.

The Reggio educators’ intention in sharing their experience with educators around the world is to encourage others to understand their own values regarding childhood, education, and community. Reggio educators hope to promote dialogue among educators, so that they will come to understand their own identity as a school community. Through this process, educators can then ensure that the learning and relationships of children, teachers, and parents within their school community reflect their shared values.

Educators in Reggio believe that children have the right and the ability to express their thinking, theories, ideas, learning, and emotions in many ways. Therefore, Reggio educators provide children with a wide range of materials and media and welcome a diversity of experiences, so that children encounter many avenues for thinking, revising, constructing, negotiating, developing, and symbolically expressing their thoughts and feelings.

In this way, teachers, parents, and children can better understand each other. These languages can include drawing, paint, clay, wire, natural and recycled materials, light and shadow, dramatic play, music, and dance. They can also include expression with words through metaphors, stories, or poems of the children’s interpretations and reflections about their experiences.

In fact, there is not a separation between what it is considered traditionally artistic expression and academic education in the schools of Reggio Emilia. All are considered part of the one hundred and more languages of learning.

Source: Adapted from North American Reggio Emilia Alliance (NAREA) website, http://reggioalliance.org/, accessed 3/9/15.

One Child’s Art Experience From Early Childhood to Now

January 14th, 2014

From Noe Valley to the San Francisco Children’s Art Center – My Daughter’s Experience in Art Education from Early Childhood to Now

By Carol Berghen
SFCAC Board of Directors

The San Francisco Children’s Art Center (SFCAC) is a non-profit art studio in Fort Mason Center on the north side of the city. My daughter attended weekly classes there for 10 years which meant that I drove to Fort Mason every week for 10 years!

When she was 3 years old we made going to art class an adventure. She would attend class and I would go for a run or do some errands. She loved her teacher, drew, painted, explored a variety of media, and participated in conversations about her art and daily life with the other students and the teachers. It was incredible to watch her have an idea and express it on a piece of paper. After class we would have lunch and explore Fort Mason, the Marina, and Crissy Field.

Once in elementary school she continued to attend SFCAC after school where she worked in depth on a number of projects such as photography and mixed media, puppet theatre, painting, and drawing. She developed a special relationship with a different teacher, her art and her classmates, and grew in confidence in her creative abilities. At the end of a structured school day it was amazing to see the calming effect the creative process provided for her.

Today at age 18, she credits the San Francisco Children’s Art Center with fostering her creativity, critical thinking, concentration, and how she views the world.

Would I cross town weekly again? Absolutely! Please visit us on the web at www.childrensartcenter.org.

Join us at our Happy Hour Fundraiser!

October 24th, 2013

Gather your friends and raise a glass to the Children’s Art Center at our Happy Hour Fundraiser! Enjoy the outdoor ambiance of Bin 38 Wine Bar & Restaurant and a glass of wine while the heatlamps and an outdoor fire-pit keep things warm for those chilly San Francisco nights. 40% of proceeds will go to the SFCAC. For more details about Bin 38, click here. RSVP on Facebook!

When: Monday, November 4, 2013
Time: 5:00-10:00pm
Bin 38 Wine Bar & Restaurant
3232 Scott St. (at Chestnut)
San Francisco

I wonder what would happen if…

January 17th, 2012

Creativity, collaboration, critical thinking are three terms pop up with ever-increasing frequency in mission statements, presidential speeches, the media, and countless other educational sources. Although largely accepted as the three skills children will need to compete in the 21st Century, they can be a bit slippery, with their merits and exact definitions subject to debate. While many of us might conjure at least a basic mental image when we picture creativity or collaboration, what exactly does critical thinking look like?

This past fall, teaching artists Erik Parra and Kaari Gerber attended a professional development session at Performing Arts Workshop focused on just that. They returned with a useful list of questions that help facilitate the reflective reasoning associated with this skill. These kinds of open-ended questions have long been used in our studio, and we encourage you to try them with your child.

Can you describe what happened?
Can you think of a new way to do it?
Do you have any other ideas?
How could we make it work?
How could we work together to solve this?
How did that happen?
How did you know how to do that?
How did you work it out?
How could you do it differently?
Tell me how you worked together.
Tell me about it.
What could we try next?
What did you see happening?
What did you learn?

These are just a few examples. When young learners formulate their own solutions, make connections, or consider another’s point of view, critical thinking is at work. When after school students evaluate or reflect on their own or another’s artwork, they are honing their critical thinking skills. Open-ended questioning supports children’s efforts to communicate their ideas, guide their own learning, and reflect on their actions, helping them to become imaginative and discerning critical thinkers and doers.

It’s Over Your Head

September 16th, 2011

After a summer break, a returning student looks around the art studio, familiarizing himself with the setup of our classroom and makes a comment while viewing photographs of work done last spring.

“I remember the overhead projector, it’s over your head!” Archie 4 3/4 years

Gail Tarantino