Reggio Emilia approach is an educational philosophy focused on preschool and primary education, adopted by scores of preschools across the world.
The Reggio Approach derives its name from its place of origin, Reggio Emilia, a city located in Emilia Romagna in Northern Italy. Shortly after World War II, Loris Malaguzzi, a young teacher and the founder of this unique system, joined forces with the parents of this region to provide childcare for young children.The destruction from the war, as parents believed, necessitated a new, quick approach to teach their children.They felt that it is in the early years of development that child formation start. This led to creation of a program based on the principles of respect, responsibility, and community through exploration and discovery in a supportive and enriching environment based on the interests of the children through a self-guided curriculum.
Curriculum: There is no set curriculum in a Reggio-Inspired preschool. Rather, the curriculum is open to all possibilities, with topics for exploration based on the interests of the class. This is sometimes referred to as Emergent Curriculum, the Project Approach, or Inquiry Based Learning. A Reggio-Inspired preschool looks and operates much differently from other preschools, with the curriculum driven by the children instead of being teacher-directed.
Fundamentals of the Reggio Emilia approach
- The child as an active participant in learning.
At the heart of this philosophy is a powerful image of the child. Reggio educators do not see children as empty vessels that require filling with facts. Rather, they see children as full of potential, competent and capable of building their own theories.The approach credits children with inborn abilities and potential as well as strength and creativity. Students should be allowed to follow their own interests, but given structure and feedback. For example students show an interest in building. To make it a learning experience, building materials are brought into the classroom. While exploring how to build construct something, children are given the opportunity to reinforce math skills, problem-solving, and emerging literacy – all in relationship to a hands-on project they have initiated.
- The significance of environment
As a consequence of the above, students need to be surrounded by the materials that will allow them to investigate. The surrounding physical environment is crucial to the Reggio Emilia’s early childhood programme, and is often referred to as the child’s “third teacher.” It should be a filled with materials such as clay, paint, and writing implements that allow hands on, investigative learning.
- The teacher, parent, and child as collaborators in the process of learning.
In Reggio Emilia, parents should be an integral part of the school and the learning process. Learning does not begin and end at the school gates, rather it’s continuous. A Reggio school not only has an open-to-parents approach, but parents are actually encouraged to participate in school activities. They can come to the school and tell a story, involve themselves in circle time, social time or even physical education time, actually just about everything that a teacher does. A sign of this should be how many parent activities are included as part of the school curricula.
- Making learning visible.
Perhaps the most intensive part of the teaching process is that in order to be effective, learning has to be documented. Documentation is a key element in the Reggio Approach and allows the teacher to track what children are doing, learning and grasping. It is a reflection of interactions between teachers and children and among children.
Documenting children’s experiences and ongoing projects gives meaning and identity to all that the children do. It is through the documentation that the teachers are able to gain insight into the thoughts of the children, create a history of the work and generate further interest.
Reggio teachers are skilled observers of children. If a teacher observes closely she can see the intelligence on a child’s face. Teachers use a variety of documentation methods, such as cameras, tape recorders, and journals, to track children’s thoughts and ideas as they play together or work with material.In a Reggio school, it is done on a daily basis.