How Reggio Emilia’s Program Aligns with the Early Years Learning Framework

The Reggio Emilia Approach is named after its place of origin, Reggio Emilia, which is a city located in Emilia Romagna in Northern Italy. It is based on the pedagogical practices and beliefs of Loris Malaguzzi who believed that your child will help set the curriculum. The basis of the Reggio Emilia Approach is to co-construct the curriculum with the children and their families to stimulate a free and open-sourced style of learning. Children are encouraged to develop skills in problem-solving, hypothesising, critical reflection and collaboration.


The Early Years Learning Framework (commonly known as EYLF), together with the National Quality Standard (or NQS), form the policies around early childhood education in Australia. The EYLF is made up of learning outcomes and principles and practices which educators use in their documentation of children’s learning and in their reflection and planning. Reggio Emilia’s educational approach and the EYLF in Australia share several key principles and philosophies, which contribute to their alignment. 



Child-Centred Approach:

Both the Reggio Emilia Approach and the EYLF exhibit a child-centred philosophy that positions the child as an engaged and capable learner. The framework advises engaging, child-centred curriculums are created when educators plan, analyse, and assess children’s learning and critically reflect and evaluate planning and practice for and with children. Reggio Emilia Early Learning Centres respect a child’s unique interests, abilities, and learning styles, encouraging them to take an active role in their own learning. Unlike other philosophies, the Reggio Emilia Approach encourages that children should be treated as active collaborators and not subjects or passive observers. The main job of the educator is to listen and observe the children whilst also questioning and waiting for opportunities to encourage further exploration of their interests.


Holistic Development:

The EYLF promotes holistic development by recognising that children are capable and competent learners in all areas of development and encourages educators to foster their growth as whole individuals. The EYLF outcomes and principles emphasise the importance of the physical, emotional, and psychological well-being of children, particularly in early childhood. The Reggio Emilia Approach focuses on the connectedness of a child’s mind, body, and spirit, embracing their real and authentic development. Whenever a child takes a natural interest in interacting with something or doing a certain action, we aim to encourage and add to this interest. Our Program is enhanced by extracurricular enrichment activities known as the Reggio 5, allowing our children to develop skills in areas beyond the traditional learning environment.


Collaborative Learning and Documentation:

The EYLF encourages partnerships between families and educators and values the role of the broader community. Documentation is highlighted as vital to capture and communicate children’s learning progress, promoting shared understanding and successful relationships. In Reggio Emilia, there is particular emphasis on the relationship and interactions between the child, their parents, and teachers. At the end of the day, parents are the true primary teachers and educators of children, and our staff and teachers are more the ‘second teachers’. Documentation of the learning process through photos and videos shared with parents enables a feedback loop for our teachers, so they can evaluate their work and collaborate with families in the learning journey.


Environments as the Third Teacher:

The EYLF recognises the importance of creating stimulating and supportive learning environments that foster children’s curiosity and engagement. It emphasises the role of the physical environment in promoting play and learning. At Reggio Emilia Early Learning Centres, the physical environment is considered the “third teacher.” Thoughtfully designed spaces and materials encourage exploration, creativity, and problem-solving. We encourage our children to use their imaginations to learn, create, and socialise. Colours, lights, designs, natural and man-made resources all make up the daily lessons in our centres. 


For example, we create outdoor spaces that resemble natural environments, including gardens, sandpits, and play areas with trees and plants. The setup of our classrooms needs to encourage children to make choices. They can decide whether to read a book, engage in a science experiment, or create art. This fosters independence and decision-making skills. The layout of the classroom needs also to encourage group activities. Children may naturally gather in the reading corner to share a story or work together on a science project. This promotes social interaction and collaboration. A play area with dress-up costumes, play kitchen sets, and props allows children to engage in imaginative play. This fosters social skills, language development, and creativity. The exploration table and nature corner offer hands-on sensory experiences, encouraging children to explore and learn through touch, sight, and sometimes even smell.

Ultimately, the Reggio Emilia Approach and the Early Years Learning Framework share common principles of child-centredness, holistic development, collaborative learning, and the importance of the learning environment. The Reggio Emilia program aligns with the EYLF foundational concept that effective early childhood education lies in honouring and nurturing the unique potential within each child. As a team of educators, we are committed to implementing EYLF into our daily practices and using the principles to guide our decision-making as we co-construct our curriculum with the children.


To find out more about the Reggio Emilia approach, its principles and how we facilitate your child’s learning within the Early Years Learning Framework feel free to reach out to us on 02 9891 2222 or via email at


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