Shortly after World War II in a small Italian town by the name of Reggio Emilia, emerged an approach to early childhood education. After the trauma of war, educators looked to an approach that would give both the community and the children a say in their education and development, a “collective responsibility” built around and with the children. The teachers, parents, children, and the local government are all considered equal participants in guiding a learning experience and environment.
I had the privilege the other day of attending my nephew’s pre-school, Branches Atelier, a Reggio based school in Santa Monica. It was absolutely amazing to see the skills that this community has developed. They work together to solve problems that arise, they communicate through art, music, and eloquent speech, and parents can (and are encouraged!) to stay for all or part of they day and help. As a community they are constantly questioning what is happening around them, and experimenting with different ideas to foster learning.
I was fortunate enough to witness children creating costumes, beginning with a drawing and realizing that costume through pattern making, to pinning, and sewing the finished product…something that as an adult I would have a tough time completing. Interestingly, when one child created a similar project to another child’s, the response by the child was “he was inspired by my work”, there was no “copying” involved. The teachers and parents spend hours and days of dedication to help bring these ideas to fruition, all in a beautifully sun filled atelier that is packed with any creative material you can imagine.
I was also fortunate enough to participate in a community lunch. Everyone sets the tables, serves the food, and gets the water. No plastic dishes, the children are trusted with china and breakables, and might I add how delicious, and not to mention sophisticated, was this lunch! We ate lentil salad with fresh herbs and tomatoes, marinated cucumber salad, and vegan pizza with roasted eggplant, zucchini, and other summer vegetables. For dessert…blueberry crisp. All seasonal ingredients and delicious. So, I was “inspired by” this experience with this amazing community…happy graduation.
2 cups fresh blueberries, rinsed and picked
1-2 peaches, cubed
juice of 1/4 lemon
4 tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup organic granulated cane sugar
1/3 cup organic flour + 1 tbs
¾ cup organic rolled oats
¼ cup chopped pecans
dash of kosher salt
dash of agave nectar
2 tsp coconut oil (I use organic coconut manna)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium pot, over a low flame, heat 1 tsp coconut oil until liquid. Lightly toast pecans and oats, just until oil is absorbed. Let oats and pecans cool. Melt 1 tsp of coconut oil and use this to oil a standard loaf pan. Place blueberries and peaches in pan. Squeeze lemon juice and agave nectar over the fruit and mix. Add 1 tbs of flour to fruit and mix. For the crumble, cream the butter and sugar together, then add flour. Once cooled, add oats and pecans to butter mixture. Spread crumble over the top of the fruit. Place in the oven and bake until crumble is a nice golden brown and the blueberries are bubbling with excitement.
This crisp is perfect alone…we also had it with a little crème fraiche sweetened with agave nectar and a dash of lemon. I imagine vanilla ice cream would also be delish.
Eat together, toast to each other, and enjoy!