What is a Reggio Emilia Preschool?
Parents have heard of but are not deeply familiar with teaching philosopy known as Reggio Emilia. We define our approach as Loose Parts (not Reggio), our overall approach does embrace many aspects of the Reggio approach.
Here is a short primer on the Reggio Emilia philosophy and how it's reflected in our preschool program.
Reggio (short for Reggio Emilia) is child led, emergent philosphy that focuses on the 100 languages of children as describe by Loris Malaguzzi (1920-1994). By using natural materials, open ended materials, and Loose Parts, children are able to control their learning. It is believed that children benefit from a new and progressive way of learning. This unique approach has grown over many decades to be recognized as one of the best educational programs for young children worldwide.
Key Characteristics of the Reggio Emilia Curriculum
The Image of the Child
The primary tenant of the philosophy is that all children are competent, curious, creative, and capable. Exploring their curiosities and interests can lead to a greater understanding and a greater desire to learn. Teachers are aware of each child’s potential, and it is their responsibility to help support and guide children throughout the journey of learning.
Emergent curriculum is a style of teaching and learning that is dependent on the teacher introducing questions and listening to the children’s ideas and discussions. Through careful observation of the classroom, teachers can introduce learning explorations, and develop long-term projects. In this sense, the curriculum ‘emerges’ from the students, allowing the learning process to become a spiraling progression rather than a linear process.
Through emergent curriculum, teachers can facilitate project work that will allow children to explore their areas of interest in detail. Teachers introduce materials, concepts, and mediums that allow children to express their ideas and interests. Children develop an enthusiasm for knowledge that is enhanced by the ability to experience the many facets of project work in detail. Projects can last anywhere from a few days to several months at a time.
The Role of the Teacher
In a Reggio Emilia-inspired curriculum, teachers are viewed as more than just a partner in education. They play several different roles, in addition to that of a teacher. They are the guides that take children through the journey of learning. They are the scribes who listen, record and display classroom experiences. They are advocates for the children, and they work closely with colleagues and parents to foster an inviting, interesting, community-based learning environment.
The Role of the Environment
The environment of the school, classrooms, and common spaces play a critical role in the Reggio-Inspired approach. The environment is viewed as the third teacher and should be considered a reflection of not just the children, teachers, or parents but a reflection of the image of the child. The classrooms in a Reggio-inspired school should be viewed as a living organism and are thoughtfully arranged to foster creative exploration while encouraging interaction and communication. Reggio-Inspired classrooms are often open, inviting spaces filled with natural furnishings, real-life materials, mirrors, windows, and natural lighting. Classrooms should display project work, both completed and in-progress, to tell the story of those that share the space.
Through the Reggio-Inspired approach, learning doesn’t just take place within the school but also at home and in the community. Parents are encouraged to participate in their children’s education and daily life at school, and to extend and reinforce learning opportunities at home. Parental involvement through the Reggio-inspired approach in the U.S. is consistent with the fully immersive, community-based learning environment found in Reggio Emilia, Italy.
Documentation in Reggio-inspired schools may come in a variety of different forms, including photography, videos, conversation transcripts, painting, drawing or other visual mediums like clay and wire. Documentation then serves to communicate learning, development, ideas, and interests and supports the next steps in the children’s educational journey.
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