The Reggio Emilia Approach To Early Childhood Education

Studies have proven the substantial and lifelong positive effects that result from active brain stimulation during the first five years of life. Thus, investing in the education of young children is becoming an increasingly common concern for parents. While there are several different approaches to early childhood education seen at places like Wooden Shoe Pre-School & Pre-Kindergarten, the Reggio Emilia program is truly one of a kind.

Developed by Loris Malaguzzi  in Italy after World War II, the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education unites teachers, families and the community in creating a supportive and sustainable environment for children as they pursue their interests and education. Continue reading to learn more about the philosophy and program elements to this unique and successful approach to early childhood education.

The Reggio Emilia Philosophy

The philosophy of the Reggio Emilia program differs from other early childhood programs because the children are in charge of their education.  They choose the topics of study and expand their minds through touching, seeing, hearing, and moving as well as interacting with each other. Through this method of learning, children not only control the direction of their education but they also discover multiple ways to express themselves and develop social skills with both their peers and adults.

The Classroom

In the Reggio Emilia approach, the classroom is often referred to as the “third teacher” because its environment is so critical in the children’s development. Reggio Emilia classrooms are very well organized and have a high aesthetic value. Every space is designed to have a purpose and appeal. There are large rooms for groups of students and teachers to work together as well as smaller spaces for individual learning. The spacious supply rooms have an ample array of materials organized to be easily accessible for the children, facilitating their active role in their education. Hallways are utilized to display projects, artwork and pictures of the learning in action. Most Reggio Emilia classrooms have lots of light and plants as well as an outdoor space, kitchen and dining area.

The Role of the Teacher

Because the Reggio Emilia program is a child-led curriculum, the teachers are often learning and discovering with the children to assist them in finding the answers to their questions. Consequently, teachers do not have the opportunity to do much planning in advanced nor do they often get to repeat parts of their curriculum. These teachers are creative and constantly observing each child, assisting them through their mistakes and documenting their progression along the way.

The Role of the Family and Community

The Reggio Emilia philosophy considers the education of children to be a collective responsibility of the community. Parents and teachers are partners in the education of the children while they are at school and when they return home.  In addition, children become acquainted with community  through frequent field trips to places such as fire stations, libraries, super markets and post offices. These experiences provide the children with an understanding of how communities work together and also allow them to develop the social skills for these various settings.

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