Reggio Emilia Approach
At First Early Learning Centres we are passionate and pride ourselves on our innovative, creative, educational curriculum that our educators design, implement and embed for the children. Our educators observe and reflect on the childrens interests, developmental stages, strengths, ideas, theories to develop the children’s individual and group programs, practices and curriculum.
Reggio Emilia Approach
The Reggio Emilia Philosophy is an innovative and inspiring approach to early childhood education, which values the child as strong, capable and resilient; sourced with wonder and knowledge. The Philosophy is built around interests and curiosity of children and aims to assist them with understanding their world and themselves in it.
Started by parents in Reggio Emilia Italy after World War II, The Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education views young children as individuals who are curious about their world and have the potential to learn from all that surrounds them. Educational, psychological, and sociological influences are important factors to consider in understanding children and working to stimulate learning in child led environments. Reggio teachers employ strategies which exposes children to a wide variety of educational learning opportunities that encourage self-expression, communication, logical thinking, and problem-solving. We process this through emergent curriculum, in-depth projects, collaboration, observation and documentation.
The Reggio Emilia philosophy values the child as central to their own learning, not simply an empty vessel waiting to be filled with knowledge. Children are able to pursue their own interests and revisit and build upon ideas at their own pace in unhurried, welcoming learning environments that capture the interests and uniqueness of the child as an individual within a group.
“The 100 Languages of Children” is a poem written by Loris Malaguzzi which explores the image of the child and their ‘language’. This concept recognizes that children have multiple ways of thinking, playing, exploring, speaking and doing. The Reggio Emilia approach encourages children to use every tool they have to express themselves freely and constructively.
Children in Reggio settings are active constructors of knowledge, who are encouraged to be ‘researchers’. Most of the educational experiences within Reggio take the form of projects, where children have opportunities to actively participate, explore and question things. There is also a very strong emphasis on the social development of children as part of the community and their relationships to other children, their families and teachers.
The Reggio approach starts from the premise that children use many different ways to express their creativity, understanding and thoughts (the 100 languages). This perspective has been endorsed by many artists, who state that these different ways of thinking, exploring and learning are expressed through drawing, sculpting, music, dance and movement, painting and drama.
Problem solving techniques
Children are given learning projects that provide extensive research opportunities, including real-life problem solving amongst peers, and opportunities for creative thinking and exploration. The children are placed in small group settings with projects that they work on and are observed by teachers. The children are encouraged to question the topic of interest. The teachers will then introduce materials, questions, and opportunities that provoke children to further explain the topic.
A Reggio-inspired environment, often referred to as “the third teacher”, is one that is open and free-flowing. It enables uninterrupted exploration, play and learning. Outdoor spaces are valued just as highly as formal classrooms, and the design of the space should allow children to move freely between the two. In addition, it is important that children have free access to stimulating resources, as they cannot be the owner of their learning journey without this. The classroom is referred to as the “third teacher” in Reggio schools. Much like the Montessori approach, great care is taken to construct an environment that allows for the easy exploration of various interests. The documentation mentioned above is often kept at children’s eye level so that they too can see how they are progressing over the year. Items from home, such as real dishware, tablecloths, plants, and animals, contribute to a comforting, “homey” classroom environment.
All of these principles and beliefs combine to make Reggio Emilia classrooms an interesting and highly effective method of expanding children’s minds—one adventure at a time.
Teachers are encouraged to observe children rather than to direct them. It is important that children are allowed to experiment in their own way, make mistakes and find new solutions. The role of the teacher is to gently move students towards areas of interest to them, and this can only be done through careful observation carried out over time. Their primary role is to learn alongside children, becoming involved in group learning experiences as a guide and resource. A Reggio Emilia teacher must always carefully observe and track the growth of children and the classroom community. Reggio teachers will also take time to reflect on what they have learned about themselves and their teaching.
What are the main principles of the Reggio Emilia Approach?
- Children are active protagonists of their growth and development processes.
- Children possess a hundred languages and a hundred ways of thinking, of expressing themselves, of understanding and of encountering others with a way of thinking that creates connections.
- Participation – it is the educational strategy that is constructed and lives day by day in the encounter with others and in the interpersonal relationships.
- Listening – is an ongoing process that nurtures reflections, welcoming an openness towards one self and others.
- Learning as a process of individual and group construction – the learning process is fostered by strategies of research, comparison of ideas and co-participation.
- Educational Research – shared research between adults and children is priority practice of everyday life, an existential and ethical approach necessary for interpreting the complexity of the world.
- Educational documentation- gives values to and makes explicit, visible and assessable, the nature of the individual and group learning process of both the children and adults.
- Progettazione – the process of planning and designing the teaching and learning activities, the environment and opportunities for participation.
- Environment, spaces and relations – the interior and exterior spaces are designed, organized and offered as places for the children and for adults to research and live together.
First Early Learning Centres philosophy is fostered and inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach along with collaboration within our centres personal vision, aspiration and respect about children being children. Our curriculum and practices include and implement the National and Victorian Early Years Learning and Development frameworks.