Reggio Emilia Childcare Centres | The Many Roles of Educators in Reggio Emilia Classrooms
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Reggio Emilia Childcare Centres | The Many Roles of Educators in Reggio Emilia Classrooms

The Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education focuses on collaborative learning. This renowned philosophy emphasises the role of educators not merely as instructors, but as co-learners and facilitators. From collaborating on projects to documenting children’s interests, the Reggio Emilia approach recognises children’s innate curiosity and creativity. Educators in this approach are seen as partners in learning, working alongside children to explore topics of interest and discover new concepts together. In this blog, we’ll explore the multi-faceted role of educators in Reggio Emilia classrooms and how they contribute to fostering an engaging learning environment. 

 

Educators are Co-Learners

In Reggio Emilia childcare centres, educators are co-learners with children. This perspective shifts the traditional dynamic, positioning the teacher not only as a tutor or guide but as an active participant in the learning journey. Educators observe and engage with children’s inquiries, exploring topics together and encouraging mutual discovery. This collaborative approach ensures that learning is a shared process, driven by curiosity and interaction.

You may be wondering — how does this work in practice? Imagine a scenario where the children are pretending to run a restaurant. Rather than simply observing or managing the play, our educators join in, perhaps taking on the role of a customer or a chef. They might start by discussing different types of restaurants with the children, sparking initial ideas. Then, together with the children, they set up a play kitchen, create menus, and take turns playing various roles. Throughout this play, the educator is not just guiding but also participating actively. “What should I order from your menu today?” or “How do you make your special dish?” This shared engagement encourages children to expand their narratives and problem-solve, with the educator modelling this creativity and collaboration.

Reggio Emilia Childcare Centres | The Many Roles of Educators in Reggio Emilia Classrooms

 

Educators are Facilitators

Facilitation is a critical aspect of the Reggio Emilia educator’s role. Educators design environments that are thought-provoking and invite children to express their ideas. This stems from the concept of the ‘Third Educator’ in the Reggio Emilia philosophy, which is the belief that children always have something new to learn from their surroundings. This method encourages deeper thinking and supports children in constructing their understanding of the world.

Sensory play involving natural materials is a great example of how the ‘Third Educator’ is introduced into the classroom. During this activity, children are presented with various textures and objects like sand, water, pebbles, and leaves. There could also be magnifying glasses, tweezers, and small containers for collecting and examining items. An educator, acting as a facilitator, might begin by asking open-ended questions such as, “How would you describe the sand?” or “How does the water feel when you run your fingers through it?” These questions prompt children to observe and describe their sensory experiences, engaging their critical thinking and language skills and encouraging deeper learning. 

Reggio Emilia Childcare Centres | The Many Roles of Educators in Reggio Emilia Classrooms

 

Educators are Motivators

Driven, caring and adaptive — these are just some of the many positive words we’d use to describe our educators at Reggio Emilia Early Learning Centres. During our hiring process, we carefully select individuals who embody our values and are passionate about nurturing the next generation of brilliant minds. Our team of educators is dedicated to guiding, inspiring and acknowledging each child’s unique potential. They understand that learning goes beyond gaining knowledge, it’s about exploring, experimenting, and discovering the world around them. In our classrooms, you’ll find mentors in the learning journey, creating environments where children feel safe to take risks, make mistakes, and learn from them.

Take for example a typical art activity. Instead of simply providing instructions, our educators turn the classroom into a colourful studio of imagination. They may set up easels, lay out paints and brushes, and provide objects for inspiration. As children enter the room, they’re greeted by a space buzzing with creativity and possibility. With gentle guidance from their educators, they explore different techniques, experiment with colours, and express themselves through their artwork. Through this hands-on approach, children develop their artistic skills, gain confidence in their abilities and get a deeper appreciation for the beauty of self-expression.

Reggio Emilia Childcare Centres | The Many Roles of Educators in Reggio Emilia Classrooms

 

Educators are Documenters

Observing and documenting each child’s learning progress is a key concept of the Reggio Emilia approach. Educators observe every child’s play and interactions, gaining insights into their interests, developmental stage and social literacy. These observations are then noted through the documentation process, which also contains photos, the progress of longer-term projects and communication with parents and carers. From observing little learners and documenting their days, educators can tailor teaching objectives to meet individual needs and foster personalised, meaningful experiences in the classroom. 

At Reggio Emilia Early Learning Centres, documentation is provided on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Parents are encouraged to contribute to this process through a communication book, sharing their child’s likes, requirements and learning at home. This documentation serves multiple purposes: it makes learning visible, allows for reflection and communicates the learning journey to parents and family members. It also provides a record of the children’s evolving interests and abilities, guiding future educational strategies in primary school and beyond.

Reggio Emilia Childcare Centres | The Many Roles of Educators in Reggio Emilia Classrooms

 

Educators are Researchers

Reggio Emilia educators approach their work with a research mindset. They continuously seek to understand the complexities of learning and development, often collaborating with colleagues to reflect on their practices and share insights. This commitment to ongoing professional development and reflective practice ensures that educators remain responsive to the needs of their students and stay informed about innovative educational concepts.

Along with many other employee incentives, we ensure that our educators continue their own journey of lifelong learning with additional training sessions. All our educators are offered fully funded professional development courses each year, in a relevant topic of their choice. Additionally, our leaders and 2ICs can participate in two leadership courses and two childcare-related workshops each year to support them in their roles. We empower our educators to embrace their roles as researchers, ensuring they are equipped with the knowledge and skills to effectively support every child in their care.

Reggio Emilia Childcare Centres | The Many Roles of Educators in Reggio Emilia Classrooms

 

Educators are Community Builders 

Community is at the heart of the Reggio Emilia philosophy. Educators strive to create a strong sense of community within the classroom and involve families and the wider community in the educational process. By building relationships based on trust and respect, educators foster a supportive and inclusive environment where children feel valued and empowered. This communal approach extends learning beyond the classroom, enriching the children’s experiences and reinforcing the interconnectedness of learning and life.

This is particularly exemplified in our Friday Connections program. Held on the last Friday of each month, this initiative promotes quality one-on-one bonding time between parents and carers and their children. During Friday Connections, families participate in fun, themed activities led by our experienced educators. Educators are responsible for putting these activities together and may base them around relevant events throughout the year, or interests expressed in the classroom. Friday Connections is a great opportunity to engage families and create enriching, inclusive educational experiences for children.

Reggio Emilia Childcare Centres | The Many Roles of Educators in Reggio Emilia Classrooms

 

The role of educators in Reggio Emilia classrooms is dynamic and multifaceted, encompassing responsibilities as co-learners, facilitators, motivators, documenters, researchers, and community builders. By embracing these roles, educators in Reggio Emilia classrooms create a vibrant, responsive, and supportive environment where every child can shine. To find out more about our educators and the Reggio Emilia approach, feel free to reach out to us on 02 9891 2222 or via email at mail@reggioemilia.com.au. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reggio Emilia Childcare Centres | The Many Roles of Educators in Reggio Emilia Classrooms
Reggio Emilia Childcare Centres | The Many Roles of Educators in Reggio Emilia Classrooms