What is the Reggio Emilia philosophy?
If you’ve found this blog, chances are you already know the power of the Reggio Emilia approach when it comes to your child’s development. So in this blog, we’re going to dive a bit deeper and look at the history, principles and exactly why it’s so effective.
The Reggio Emilia Approach is named after its place of origin, Reggio Emilia, which is a city located in Emilia Romagna in Northern Italy.
One of the founders, Malaguzzi, was a young teacher and worked closely with the local parents to provide care for the children right after WW2. The parents and Malaguzzi were of the opinion that the early years of a child’s development are critical and strongly influence who they’ll become as individual.
In the early stages, the Reggio Emilia Approach was based on:
- Respect, responsibility and community
- Value exploration and discovery
- A supportive and enriching environment
- A self-guided curriculum
The Reggio Emilia Principles
When it comes to Reggio Emilia’s approach, there are seven guiding principles that differentiate and distinguish it from other child-centred approaches to education. These are:
- The child is capable of constructing their own learning
- Community is important and children learn by collaborating with their communities
- Humans are natural communicators and children should be encouraged to express themselves
- The environment is the third teacher and must be enriching and supportive
- Teachers are partners, nurturers and guides to children and help them explore their interests through projects
- A child’s learning must be documented
- Parental participation is vital
Principle 1: The child is capable of constructing their own learning
In the Reggio Emilia approach, the children are the centre of their own learning and the initiators of the process. They have ingrained and natural interests that both inspire them to learn but construct the best way to learn on their own. Unlike other philosophies, the Reggio Emilia approach encourages that children should be treated as active collaborators and not subjects or passive observers.
Principle 2: Community is important and children learn by collaborating with their communities
Relationships are a vital component when it comes to early learning and development. In Reggio Emilia, there is particular emphasis on the relationship and interactions between the child, their parents and teachers.
As mentioned in principle 1, children are collaborators and thus require a community to collaborate with. Thus at our Reggio Emilia centres, you’ll find that we structure out projects around small groups so that our children can interact with each other and see each other as peers and active members of the community.
Principle 3: Humans are natural communicators and children should be encouraged to express themselves
This principle is also referred to as ‘The Hundred Languages of Children’ and is considered to be one of the most profound concepts. The concept revolves around the fact that children are natural communicators and must be encouraged to communicate through whatever means necessary. This means that verbal and written communication are just two languages, there’s also drawing, painting, building, sculpting and many more. Because of the rate and many ways children can learn, it’s important that they’re provided with many ways to express themselves. Similarly, it’s also the teacher’s responsibility to facilitate this communication.
Principle 4: The environment is the third teacher and must be enriching and supportive
You’ll notice above that we’ve made reference to collaboration, community and facilitating communication. All of this is made possible by creating a suitable environment for the child. At the end of the day, it’s the environment and both who and what the child is surrounded by that influence their development.
As a result, the environment should not be seen as a physical construct of simply chairs, tables, toys and books but instead a living organism. It’s this component that is one of the most critical components of the Reggio Emilia philosophy.
You’ll notice at our centres that we intentionally make use of natural furnishings as this ensures the classroom, common space and outside communities are carefully integrated whilst encouraging real-life interactions
Principle 5: Teachers are partners, nurturers and guides to children and help them explore their interests through projects
Contrary to what we might have been told when younger, children do not always respond well to directives. As a result, teachers should not be seen as drill sergeants and commanders of the environment. Instead, they’re partners with child and their learning process.
Reggio Emilia teachers are expected to guide children through experiences, discovery and problem solving. Thus the main job of the teacher is to list and observe the children whilst also questioning and waiting for opportunities to encourage further exploration of their interests.
This is true collaboration but it’s on the teacher to identify when concepts can be utilised for further development.
Principle 6: A child’s learning must be documented
In addition to guiding children through their learning, teachers are responsible for documenting the learning process and transcribing the language used by children. This is done through photos and videos and shared with the parents to keep them in the know of what the child is doing.
Documentation also enables a feedback loop for our teachers so they can evaluate their work but also exchange ideas and collaborate with others.
In addition to this, documenting a child’s learning communicates to the child that their work is of value. Being able to finish your preschool experience with a portfolio of project, photos, videos, and quotes is something that builds great pride and encourages continuous learning in their later years.
Principle 7: Parental participation is vital
Just like teachers, parents are partners in their child’s education. As a result, they need to participate and are always invited to play an active role in their child’s learning experiences.
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’.
To find out more about the Reggio Emilia approach, it’s principles and how we facilitate your child’s learning through environment, collaboration and projects feel free to reach out to us on 02 9891 2222 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We conduct free tours of each of our centres to help you make the best decision for your children plus a portfolio of resources to help guide and educate your child.