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An overview of Peregrine Pedagogy and the research behind it


The child is the active agent in their own learning. 

This statement may seem obvious, and few teachers would make a toddler sit still and listen. But as children get older, most schools emphasize the body of knowledge to be transmitted rather than the student’s process of discovery. At Peregrine School, young children propel their own learning through play. As they get older, project based learning enables students to explore curricula in the disciplines in active and personal ways.

Group work with expert teachers

Project Zero, the largest research project on creativity ever sustained (it has been going on for thirty years led by Howard Gardner and his team at Harvard), spent five years studying the schools of Reggio Emilia. In Making Learning Visible, his team concluded that the best way to inspire creative thinking is through a responsive, expert teacher working with a small group of students to explore challenges which the students find meaningful. Peregrine School has been inspired by this model, which is our central teaching method at all levels.

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Small teacher to student ratios

At all ages, students benefit from close teacher contact throughout the learning process. Young children rely on their teachers for emotional support; as they grow, these teachers become important mentors in their quest to find their personal interests and passions. Peregrine School is committed to small groups of students working with a teacher. Larger classrooms have teams of teachers, who separate children into temporary learning groups which ensure attention for each child.

Exposure to a
variety of disciplines

Like a classic liberal arts college, Peregrine School defines education broadly to include traditional academic disciplines, the arts, and applied subjects such as engineering or gardening. Students at all levels experience many integrated studies over the course of a week. Everyone is expected to participate in all subjects since we believe that being educated entails having a working knowledge of a variety of intellectual and artistic disciplines. While not everyone will become a musician, everyone should know how to read simple music and will learn basic music vocabulary. The same applies to all subjects.

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“Play” as an aspect of learning at all levels

All Peregrine preschool programs are play-based, meaning that students are able to choose their activities during a major part of the day, and that teachers take children’s fantasy play seriously, often recording it and building curricula from it. In elementary school, students are still given choices as often as possible—sometimes of topic, of research project, of group or individual work, or of learning pace and style. As students mature, child-centered “play” evolves into sustained, child-driven projects.

Learning is embedded in community values

Unlike some educational approaches, no two Reggio schools look the same or have the same curriculum. Reggio-inspired education is tailored to match each community, because it is invented by teachers in response to children’s desires and needs, and to their community’s focus at a certain point in time. In Northern Italy, where Reggio started, visual art is the central organizer of the curriculum because art has been the central interest of that community since the Renaissance.

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Learning as social

Montessori education is seen as the “mother” of Reggio education because it preceded it in Italy. In Montessori classrooms, the child is an active learner. Teaching centers around children making their way through a series of developmental puzzles which are given to an individual learner at his/her own level. Once a task is complete, the child is invited to do the next one. (This approach is rooted in Jean Piaget’s developmental theories.)

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