Wednesday, September 19, 2012



I worked and studied in a center inspired by the teachers and families in Reggio Emilia for years before I ever heard the Italian word "Inserimento". I'd like to share it with you because I think it honors our mentors and heroes when we use their words. For instance, I'm the "pedagogista" (instead of the coach or coordinator) at Peabody Terrace Children's Center because I want to remind myself and our community that I am the intellectual descendant of generations of pedagogisti who have supported reflective teachers all over the world. And yet, I had never heard "inserimento" because it is associated with infant and toddler centers and I worked at a preschool with an after-school care for older children. In Italy, infants and toddlers go to one center and preschoolers go to another, and when a family first comes to childcare, they are embraced by the community; this is the process of inserimento.

Since families first started paying someone to watch children so that mothers could work childcare was viewed as a separation of mother and child. If this is the model, then child care workers have to try to lessen the pain of this separation, and help the child spend her time until her mother returns. Inserimento is another way of viewing this same situation. Literally, I'm told, it means "insertion"... We ask "How is this family added to the community?" rather than "How will these teachers substitute for mother?" For us, the process of bringing a child to the infant room is broadening her community, building new relationships upon the attachment that she already feels with her family. Our situation is one of addition instead of subtraction. In fact, inserimento is a process of teachers and families "opening oneself to others" (Bambini,114) not just teachers and children. The incremental way that we welcome families into our infant rooms, our home visits and extensive developmental histories, our documentation are all a part of how PTCC welcomes whole families into our community, builds trust and creates a classroom; how we do inserimento.

This tile wall is composed of the artwork of PTCC children over the years. It is a reminder to children and families that this place has its own history, that we are not the first teachers and families here and we won't be the last. We are part of something bigger than ourselves.
Unlike the centers of Reggio Emilia, however, we have infant, toddler and preschool classrooms. I have been looking closely over the last two months, as the children (and their families) all moved into new classrooms, with new teachers for evidence of our "never-ending process of growth, transformation and getting to know each other" (Bambini, 121). Comprehensive welcome packets, our piazzas, all about me books, family pictures and warm conversations in person are ways that the teachers of older children at PTCC continue the process of inserimento.
Family photos in many classrooms allow children to get to know each other's families and offer comfort to children when they miss their loved ones.
How do our families count?
When you thought about bringing your child to care, did you think of it as an additive experience or a seperation for your family? What has been your experience here at PTCC?

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