As a parent seeking to benefit from the education provided by child care services, you have may have come across the Reggio Emilia learning approach.
Reggio Emilia was first developed in the mid 20th century by the by psychologist Loris Malaguzzi. This development occurred in collaboration with parents in the villages of the Reggio Emilia province in northern Italy. Over the decades since, the philosophy has proven to be an effective learning approach for young children. It is now highly influential in early education all over the world.
We must credit the child with enormous potential and the children must feel that trust. The teacher must give up all preconceived notions and accept the child as a co-constructor.
The Reggio Emilia Approach is an educational philosophy based on the belief that all children possess endless potential for development and learning in relationships with others. The philosophy includes a number of distinct characteristics:
- The participation of families and the community
- The collaboration of teachers and students together as equals and active participants in learning
- The importance of the educational environment – the environment is often referred to as the third teacher
- The presence of the ‘atelier’ – a creative space for artistic expression – and the presence of a qualified creative teacher
- The interactive in-school kitchen
- The ‘pedagogical’ coordinating team who mentor and provide professional development to the educators
- Respecting and promoting the rights of the child
Through this, the approach seeks to unlock and respect the ability of the child to explore, working with their hands, minds and emotions. To express themselves through ‘many languages’, meaning the untold myriad of ways in which children can express themselves.
The Reggio Emilia philosophy is based upon the following set of principles:
- Children must have some control over the direction of their learning
- Children must be able to learn through experiences of touching, moving, listening, and observing
- Children are able to explore relationships with other children and discover objects in the world around them
- Children must have endless ways and opportunities to express themselves
- Children are viewed as capable and competent and have endless possibilities in life
In practise this means that places of learning that are inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach place particular emphasis on collaborative learning through discovery, play and creativity. They celebrate and build children’s confidence in self-expression and the ability to engage in a lifelong pursuit of learning.
Parents can use the points outlined in this article as a guide when assessing early learning centres and the extent to which the centre practically implements aspects of the Reggio Emilia approach. These include:
- The extent to which the educators collaborate with each other and the children in play and discovery-based learning
- The quality of the environment as a place of wonder and inspiration. This should include both the natural and made environments
- The presence of creative spaces
- The in-house kitchen
- The welcoming nature of its community and the ability for parents to involve themselves collaboratively
As we all know, in today’s fast changing cultural landscapes and workplaces, the ability for people to learn and adapt is vital to self-esteem, wellbeing and prosperity.
The Reggio Emilia approach is a great place to start.