Reggio Emilia at Different Age Levels: Adapting the Approach for Various Stages
Following methodologies laid out by the Early Years Learning Framework, the Reggio Emilia approach can be easily adapted to benefit children at various stages in their development. Aligned with the philosophy and techniques of this approach, Reggio Emilia Early Learning Centres focuses on providing education to growing minds — working with children to co-construct the curriculum and maximise learning that is unique to each child’s individual development. Here’s how we implement the Reggio Emilia approach at different age levels to achieve this goal.
Adjusting the Environment
Look around — you can find lessons in everything that surrounds you. This idea is at the heart of the Reggio Emilia approach which recognises the environment as the essential ‘Third Educator’ in a child’s development. There’s so much more a child can discover when you adjust their environment and experience. Our childcare centres are designed to be fun and dynamic so that children’s minds can be stimulated and they can explore their imaginations freely. Among other techniques, we do this by incorporating colours, lights and designs, as well as natural and man-made resources into the learning space.
At the infant and toddler stage, connecting with the environment and discovering new tastes, smells and sounds is a crucial element of their development. It’s important to create an environment that encourages an infant or toddler’s desire to investigate the world around them. During this stage of development, children attempt to understand the difference between themselves and their environment using their senses. At Reggio Emilia Early Learning Centres, we facilitate sensory activities such as peek-a-boo, basic puzzle games or bubble blowing to engage an infant or toddler’s innate curiosity.
As children grow older, their self-awareness evolves and they become even more fascinated with everything they interact with. They might ask questions like “who”, “what”, “where” and “why” in an attempt to better understand their environment. To account for this, we adapt the curriculum to their specific interests, hobbies and questions about their surroundings — working with preschoolers collaboratively to decide how they’d like to experience the world. We may try activities such as role-playing, cooking or interactive science projects to stimulate preschoolers as they grow.
From birth, children are incredibly reliant on their parents to care for them and tell them what to do, but as they learn how to walk, talk and start making their own choices, their sense of self flourishes. By working with children and parents to co-construct the curriculum, the Reggio Emilia approach acknowledges how important it is for children to develop their independence and decision-making skills. We encourage children to decide where and how they want to learn based on their interests.
For infants and toddlers, this is quite empowering, as they’re keen to begin doing more things for themselves. They’ll start to reach for objects more — such as spoons at mealtimes or soap when washing their hands — and will want to take some control of day-to-day tasks. Techniques from the Reggio Emilia approach such as active listening and prompting, can be useful during this time — helping toddlers build their confidence and feel more capable.
A child’s desire for independence continues to grow further into their development. Preschoolers are able to complete everyday tasks with little or no assistance and can be relied upon to feed themselves and get dressed. It’s crucial at this stage to continue building on a child’s problem-solving skills and creativity so that they can become comfortable with making their own decisions. ‘100 Different Languages’ is a philosophy used in the Reggio Emilia approach to develop these skills. It suggests that a child knows roughly 100 different languages and can express themselves in limitless ways. In a Reggio Emilia-inspired classroom, children will direct their own learning, choosing a style that suits their individual needs. For example, if they’re curious about a topic, we may read a book or create a project that relates to that topic. This process gives children a sense of independence as they determine how to face situations and challenges with multiple strategies to pull from.
At Reggio Emilia Early Learning Centres we believe that play and fun present great opportunities for your child’s learning. We’ve designed our extra-curricular program, The Reggio 5, to ensure children are engaged as they build their skills. ‘Reggio Art’, ‘Reggio Fitness’, ‘Reggio Music’, ‘Reggio Language’ and ‘Reggio Earth’ all present different ways to tap into a child’s 100 languages and prepare them for primary school.
While these enhancement programs teach similar skills, they are adjusted slightly between toddlers and preschoolers to account for their different levels of development. For example, there’s an activity called Shredded Paper Sheep which we implement in the Reggio Art program. In this activity, children craft a sheep using bits of shredded paper and paper plates. While toddlers will still get to enjoy this sensory project with pre-cut shapes, older children who have more advanced fine motor skills will get to design and cut out the sheep’s head, body and legs for themselves.
Reggio Music is another example where The Reggio 5 program may differ between age groups. For toddlers, the focus is to get them familiar with different sounds, as they are still at the stage where they’re connecting their bodies with the music they’re playing. Preschoolers, on the other hand, have a greater sense of self and others and will be able to collaborate and keep in rhythm with their classmates. Their memories are also improving, giving them the ability to repeat musical patterns or beats with more accuracy.
By adjusting the Reggio Emilia approach for different age levels, we can ensure that children are receiving the most appropriate education at their specific stages of development. To find out more about the Reggio Emilia approach, its principles and how we adjust our programs to suit various stages in your child’s development feel free to reach out to us on 02 9891 2222 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.