The city of Reggio Emilia in Italy is recognized worldwide for its innovative approach to education. Its signature educational philosophy has become known as the Reggio Emilia Approach which many American preschool programs have adopted. The Reggio Emilia philosophy is based upon the following set of principles:
The Reggio Emilia approach to teaching young children puts the natural development of children as well as the close relationships that they share with their environment at the center of its philosophy. Early childhood programs that have successfully adapted to this educational philosophy share that they are attracted to Reggio because of the way it views and respects the child. They believe that the central reason that a child must have control over his or her day-to-day activity is that learning must make sense from the child's point of view. To make it meaningful, it also must be of interest to the child. That is one way they have control over their learning.
Parents are a vital component to the Reggio Emilia philosophy. Parents are viewed as partners, collaborators and advocates for their children. Teachers respect parents as each child's first teacher and involve parents in every aspect of the curriculum. It is not uncommon to see parents volunteering within Reggio Emilia classrooms throughout the school. This philosophy does not end when the child leaves the classroom. Most parents who choose to send their children to a Reggio Emilia program incorporate many of the principles within their parenting and home life. Even with this bridge between school and home, many people wonder what happens to Reggio children when they make the transition from this style of education to a non Reggio Emilia school. The answer is that there is some adjustment that must take place. In most school environments, intellectual curiosity is rewarded, so students continue to reap the benefits of Reggio after they've left the program.
The parents' role mirrors the community's, at both the schoolwide and the classroom level. Parents are expected to take part in discussions about school policy, child development concerns, and curriculum planning and evaluation. Because a majority of parents--including mothers--are employed, meetings are held in the evenings so that all who wish to participate can do so.
Teachers routinely divide responsibilities in the class so that one can systematically observe, take notes, and record conversations between children. These observations are shared with other teachers and a specialized teacher called the atelierista who uses a space in the school called an atelier -or studio- to use art as an integrated way for children's symbolic expression. Parents are also involved in curriculum planning and evaluation. Teachers of several schools often work and learn together under the leadership of the pedagogista as they explore ways of expanding on children's spontaneous activities..
Other supportive elements of the environment include ample space for supplies, frequently rearranged to draw attention to their aesthetic features. In each classroom there are studio spaces in the form of a large, centrally located atelier and a smaller mini-atelier, and clearly designated spaces for large- and small-group activities. Throughout the school, there is an effort to create opportunities for children to interact. Thus, the single dress-up area is in the center piazza; classrooms are connected with telephones, passageways or windows; and lunchrooms and bathrooms are designed to encourage community.
The projects that teachers and children engage in are distinct in a number of ways from those that characterize American teachers' conceptions of unit or thematic studies. The topic of investigation may derive directly from teacher observations of children's spontaneous play and exploration. Project topics are also selected on the basis of an academic curiosity or social concern on the part of teachers or parents, or serendipitous events that direct the attention of the children and teachers. Reggio teachers place a high value on their ability to improvise and respond to children's predisposition to enjoy the unexpected. Regardless of their origins, successful projects are those that generate a sufficient amount of interest and uncertainty to provoke children's creative thinking and problem-solving and are open to different avenues of exploration. Because curriculum decisions are based on developmental and sociocultural concerns, small groups of children of varying abilities and interests, including those with special needs, work together on projects.
Projects begin with teachers observing and questioning children about the topic of interest. Based on children's responses, teachers introduce materials, questions, and opportunities that provoke children to further explore the topic. While some of these teacher provocations are anticipated, projects often move in unanticipated directions as a result of problems children identify. Thus, curriculum planning and implementation revolve around open-ended and often long-term projects that are based on the reciprocal nature of teacher-directed and child-initiated activity. All of the topics of interest are given by the children.
One of the most challenging aspects of the Reggio Emilia approach is the solicitation of multiple points of view regarding children's needs, interests, and abilities, and the concurrent faith in parents, teachers, and children to contribute in meaningful ways to the determination of school experiences. Teachers trust themselves to respond appropriately to children's ideas and interests, they trust children to be interested in things worth knowing about, and they trust parents to be informed and productive members of a cooperative educational team. The result is an atmosphere of community and collaboration that is developmentally appropriate for adults and children alike.
Rethink, Reimagine, Reinvent: The Reggio Emilia Approach to Incorporating Reclaimed Materials in Children's Artworks
Mar 01, 2009; "I wonder why somebody thought these were trash. I think I can use this one in my artwork. Maybe for the background." -A second...
Application of the Reggio Emilia Approach to Early Childhood Science Curriculum.(Journal Articles)(Author abstract)
Mar 22, 2011; APPLICATION OF THE REGGIO EMILIA APPROACH TO EARLY CHILDHOOD SCIENCE CURRICULUM. Dolores A. Stegelin. Early Childhood Education...
Emergent Curriculum in the Primary Classroom: Interpreting the Reggio Emilia Approach in Schools .(Brief article)(Book review)
Apr 01, 2009; EMERGENT CURRICULUM IN THE PRIMARY CLASSROOM: Interpreting the Reggio Emilia Approach in Schools (2008; $26.95), by Carol Anne...