The Atelier - Exploratory studios for pre-schoolers
Rediscovering education through experiences, explorations and engagements.Paarth Garg
Walk into either of the two Atelier Studios in Bangalore or Guwahati, and perceptions of what a learning space is supposed to be are altered forever. The Atelier is a preschool. Yes, you read that right, our story here is about a preschool.
3 year olds find chameleons fascinating, at age 4 the shadows seem to dance and children aged 5 talk about everything from space to electricity. The Atelier was born with a vision of keeping the innate sense of curiosity and wonder alive through the childhood years.
The school offers learning programmes for children between 0.5 years to 6 years old. The programmes and curriculum at The Atelier has been designed for experiential learning. While the days are packed with creations and investigations, the backdrop of each moment involves various forms of learning. The children develop motor skills every time they use their hands and bodies. They develop social skills and empathy with each interaction they have with other children and adults. The children make logical connections while mixing paints and using brushes of different sizes. They understand the power of fantasy and imagination while reading books. They absorb each experience through all their six senses.
The curriculum emerges from the interests of the children. Children constantly communicate what interests them through verbal and non-verbal clues.
Once an interest spreads across a group, it gradually takes the shape of a project lasting either days, weeks or months. The early phases of the project, involve constructing meaning and understanding. Children form meaning from their everyday experiences, their routines and their surroundings. The adults help the children build further understanding by contemplating on the children’s current perceptions, supporting them in answering their questions and providing them with new experiences.
Children are capable of constructing their own learning.
The provocative nature of the setups at the Atelier create opportunities for children to interact with materials which are open ended in nature. These materials take the shape of the children’s imagination. The children constantly test the versatility of these materials and explore their dynamic nature. Alongside, representing their ideas through graphic languages help children communicate their thoughts and ideas in a new language. As they represent their thoughts in visual forms, they form clarity about their ideas and make choices about their theories. The need to communicate, language, expression, words, symbols and letters are all interconnected. Learning reading and writing is a process which also involves meaningful communication for the children.
Children are communicators, the environment is the third teacher, the adult is a mentor and guide.
The Atelier borrows it's educational philosophy from a the Reggio Emilia Approach to learning according to which: It is in the early years of development that children form who they are as individuals. This led to the creation of a program based on the principles of respect, responsibility, and community through exploration and discovery in a supportive and enriching environment based on the interests of the children through a self-guided curriculum.
Children form an understanding of themselves and their place in the world through their interactions with others & the environment around them.
The Atelier designs learning experiences based on the understanding that children use many different ways to show their understanding and express their thoughts and creativity. A hundred different ways of thinking, of discovering, of learning. Through drawing and sculpting, through dance and movement, through painting and pretend play, through modeling and music, and that each one of these Hundred Languages must be valued and nurtured. That they are all a part of the child, that learning and play are not separated.
Their first studio has been operating in Guwahati for the past two and a half year long sessions, the humbling response and impact has led them to broaden their reach and start a new studio in Bangalore.