The Reggio Emilia Approach to early childhood education originated in the city of Reggio Emilia in Italy. Since its development in the 1940's, this inspiring and innovative educational approach to early childhood learning has since been used worldwide. The Reggio Approach fosters the children’s intellectual development through encouraging young children to explore their environment and express themselves through all of their available “expressive, communicative and cognitive languages” It is not seen an educational method rather it is seen as a living process. Principles of the Reggio Emilia Approach to Education
The following principles guide the practice and decisions made at Bright Start Preschool and are borrowed from Foundations of the Reggio Emilia Approach by Lella Gandini.
Image of the Child Children are viewed as competent, curious, full of knowledge, potential, and interested in connecting to the world around them. Teachers are deeply aware of children’s potentials and construct all of their work and environment of the children’s experience to respond appropriately.
Collaboration and Interaction Collaboration and cooperation are intentional in a school inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach to education. The entire system is designed to be connected and in relationship. Nothing is left to sit in isolation. Everything is alive and connected. Children, teachers and families join together to continually improve the system that supports our school community.
The Environment The space within the school or the environment is considered the third teacher. Teachers intentionally organize, support and plan for various spaces for children. The daily schedules are planned to ensure that there is a balance between individual, small and large group activities, child directed and teacher initiated activity and inside as well as outside experiences.
The Three Subjects of Education: Children, Families and Teachers. For children to learn their well-being has to be guaranteed; such well-being is connected with the well being of parents and teachers. Children, parents and teachers have rights; the right to safety, care and welfare, the right to be involved and the right to grow professionally.
The Power of Documentation Documentation is a means to collect information, observations and learning. It can be in the form of observations, photography, video, conversation transcripts and/or visual mediums like paint, wire, clay or drawing materials. Teachers use documentation to identify strengths, ideas, and next steps to support learning.
Emergent Curriculum Emergent Curriculum is a way of teaching and learning that requires teachers to observe and listen to the children. Teachers ask questions and listen for the children’s ideas, hypotheses and theories. After observing children in action, the teachers compare, discuss, and interpret their observations. Teachers plan activities, studies and long term projects in the classroom based on their observations. Teachers partner with children and the exchange of theories are referred to as the Cycle of Inquiry. Teachers use their interpretations, intentions and goals (social, emotional and academic) to make choices that they share with children. Learning is seen not as a linear process but as a spiraling progression.
The Hundred Languages of Children The teacher works closely with other teachers and the children through the Studio, an intentional space containing materials and tools to pursue thinking and concepts. In addition to the larger Studio, Mini-studios are found in every Discovery. What is done with the materials is not art, because in the view of Reggio educators the children’s use of media is not a separate part of the curriculum but an integral part of the whole cognitive symbolic expression process of learning.
The Role of the Teacher The image of the child shapes the role of the teacher and involves four major components. Teachers are:
Advocates for children: involved in the community, politics relating to children, speaks for children and presents work to other educators and community members.
The Role of Parents Parents are an essential component of the school. They are an active part of their children’s learning experiences and help to ensure the welfare of all the children in the school. All families are members of the Family Team
Projects Projects provide the backbone of the children’s and teachers’ learning experiences. They are based on the strong convictions that learning by doing is of great importance and that to discuss in group and to revisit ideas and experiences is the premier way of learning. Project ideas come from experiences of the children and teachers, a chance event or problem posed. They can last from a few days to several months.