Tuesday, May 15, 2018

A Brief Overview of the Reggio Emilia Approach to Education

Alice “Dan” Zhang of Sunnyvale, California, holds a BA in French and English from the Shanghai University of International Business and Economics and a master’s degree in banking and finance from Robert Schuman University. She also has completed core classes in early childhood development at Foothill College in Sunnyvale. Currently an early childhood education teacher at the OFJCC Leslie Family Preschool in Palo Alto, Alice Zhang is trained in both traditional Jewish values and the Reggio Emilia approach to preschool and primary education. 

The Reggio Emilia style of education, which originated in northern Italy, regards children as competent, curious, and knowledgeable. Teachers observe the things that children already know and the things that challenge them and record observations to inform the ways teachers design their classrooms and plan curricula. Documentation is a key concept that helps teachers identify strengths in students, generate new ideas, and work with parents to support learning. 

The Reggio Emilia model emphasizes collaboration and interaction, with families, children, and teachers working together to create the optimum learning environment. Project-based learning encourages engagement and participation and allows children to work toward goals over the course of days, weeks, or months.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Three Red Flowers that Attract Hummingbirds

An education professional with extensive knowledge of the Reggio Emilia Approach, Alice 'Dan' Zhang of Sunnyvale teaches young children at OFJCC Leslie Family Preschool in Palo Alto, California. In her leisure time, Alice Zhang enjoys gardening, and especially planting flowers that attract hummingbirds.

If you want hummingbirds to visit your yard, you must provide a habitat that will attract them. Such habitat includes low shelter from bushes, vines, and small trees, and access to water. Flowers, especially of a red color, particularly attract these tiny birds, which rely on the nectar for food. Three flowers to consider planting are the following:

1. Cardinal Flower: A variety of lobelia, these flowers prefer moist soil with good drainage. Its flower stalks may reach 4 feet high and feature delicate red blossoms.
2. Red Columbine: A perennial, this flower blooms early in the year, attracting hummingbirds returning from their winter migration.
3. Trumpet Honeysuckle: A vine that can tolerate partial shade to full sun, it prefers moist soil. The trumpet shape of the orange-red flowers give this vine its name.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

NAEYC - Building Professional Guidelines for Early Childhood Education

A former accounting professional, Alice “Dan” Zhang of Sunnyvale, California, has transitioned into a career in early childhood education. She received early child development training at Sunnyvale’s Foothill College before accepting a position at OFJCC Leslie Family Preschool in Palo Alto. Alongside her day-to-day professional activities, Alice Zhang maintains membership in the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). 

In its efforts to improve early childhood education, NAEYC offers a variety of programs and resources for individuals and institutions that care for and educate children 8 years old and younger. In 2016, the organization launched Power to the Profession, a national collaborative initiative that aims to create a shared framework of professional guidelines for early childhood educators. 

Working alongside NAEYC on the initiative are more than a dozen organizations, including the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, the National Association for Family Child Care, and the National Head Start Association. In establishing the professional guidelines, NAEYC and other organizations involved in the collaboration are also drawing on feedback and contributions from early childhood professionals across the country. 

After the framework is established, the Power to the Profession national task force will work to promote and implement the framework at the local, state, and national levels. For more information about the initiative, visit www.naeyc.org/profession.