The City of Reggio Emilia, Italy
The Reggio Emilia Approach to Early Childhood Education
The Reggio Approach is a wonderful model for children starting at age 2 and adapts naturally to prepare older children for kindergarten.
The Reggio Emilia educational philosophy was developed shortly after World War II by psychologist Loris Malaguzzi and parents in the villages surrounding Reggio Emilia, Italy. By empowering children in the learning process, we foster creative thinking and a love of learning. The key principles of the Reggio approach are as follows:
The city of Reggio Emilia, Italy
1. Expressive Arts: The Reggio Emilia approach believes that children express themselves through may different methods or “languages” to communicate their thoughts, creativity, and understanding. Children learn and communicate through pretend-play, drawing, music, dance, movement, sculpture, painting, and drama. Reggio Approach founder, Loris Malaguzzi, wrote a wonderful poem “The Hundred Languages of Children” which beautifully reflects this principle: http://www.innovativeteacherproject.org/reggio/poem.php
2. Environment is the Third Teacher: The environment plays such a significant role we call it the “third teacher.” Our respect for children demands we make their classroom “home away from home” beautiful and enjoyable with the functions and resources a child needs to learn. The inside classroom environment is designed for its potential to inspire children—it becomes a teacher of its own. Likewise, access to the outdoor environment is an essential outlet for children to learn from a nature. Our physical spaces inside and outside encourage exploration, communication, and collaboration.
3. Documentation and Observation: Reggio-inspired schools go beyond many traditional preschools in documenting the work children do. Teachers show respect to children by carefully documenting the work they create and recording what individual children say. Documentation provides a window into each child’s learning and their progression of thinking through visual representations (drawings, sculptures), photographs, video, and transcripts from conversations.
4. Long-Term Projects: Reggio Emilia is focused on long-term learning projects which might last weeks or months depending on the interest level of the students. Children will be introduced to social collaboration and how to work well in small and large groups. These projects include opportunities to problem-solve, delve deeper into a topic, and think creatively. Children are often involved in selecting the topic of study which is of interest to them.
What Occurs in a Reggio-inspired School
A Reggio Emilia inspired education builds from children’s interests and ideas in a collaborative, community-based environment. By carefully observing children, teachers introduce learning “provocations” that build on their questions and interests. Classroom projects are constructed around these ideas, utilizing a variety of “languages” or methods of expression which come naturally to children from art to dance, music, drawing, simple constructions, and collaborative play. As questions arise, children are not quickly supplied with answers. They are encouraged to explore, investigate, and interpret their real-world findings.
Teachers show respect to children by carefully documenting the work children create and recording what individual children say. This documentation is displayed regularly for extended periods within the classroom to demonstrate that teachers and adults truly value the work children have performed.