Getting to know the ECLC Fairfax’s Atelier

Aligning with the principles of the Reggio Emilia philosophy, the Pozez JCC Early Childhood Learning Center established an Atelier in 2010. Over the years the ECLC’s atelier has become an integral part of the children’s learning experiences at school, as an active space where curiosity is sparked and creativity flourishes.

But what is an Atelier in an early childhood context?

Atelier is a French word defined as a workshop or studio. For the young children that attend the ECLC, the Atelier is a space, a laboratory of sorts, where they can express themselves authentically, question, wonder, and discover new knowledge through aesthetic experiences.

Children live in a world of relationships, and use multiple senses, such as touching, smelling, tasting, and listening, to investigate and process connections between themselves and the world around them. This interconnectedness is not limited, but incorporates materials, provided, or discovered. In the Atelier, materials are presented in visually appealing ways, and the quality and authenticity of materials are essential in supporting the children’s thinking and learning. Children are given agency to explore these materials through poly-sensorial investigations. As children become more familiar with a material, it evolves into a ‘language’ for them to further communicate their thoughts and ideas. Intentional considerations of materials demonstrate deep respect for children’s capabilities and the importance of aesthetic experiences in learning.

In the Atelier, small groups of children visit at a time.  There are many benefits to working in a small group context, as there tends to be fewer distractions, establishing a place for children to observe, interact, listen, and learn from each other. Through small group interactions, children not only learn from their peers but also develop crucial social skills and a sense of belonging within the learning community.

This year, the intention of the atelier has been focused on mark-making. The goal is to continually offer a variety of materials to explore different impressions, scribbles, patterns, and shapes, which is simply the beginning of emergent writing. In the early stages of mark-making, utilizing different types of tools, from watercolor paints to clay, strengthens hands while children are engaged in the simple physical pleasures of making marks. When children realize that they can control their marks and share their ideas through these various forms of languages, mark making becomes a form of connection, as the traces that are left are purposeful. Each child is on their own journey, as they practice coordination and creativity through their own aesthetic lens.

A new video highlighting the happenings of the ECLC’s Atelier is being featured in the Pozez JCC lobby. As the children that attend the ECLC are the largest population that inhabit the community center daily, showcasing them and the work that they do shares to the children that they are valued, seen, and are contributing members of the community. Please enjoy!

ECLC Atelier Video

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