Reggio Emilia Approach comes from a city located in Emilia Romagna in Northern Italy. It was founded by Loris Malaguzzi, a teacher after World War II. With parent initiative, Malaguzzi started the system to provide childcare for young children which was originally inspired by the need for women to return to the workforce. In Reggio Emilia, 54 publicly funded schools provide education for children from birth to six years. These schools have been described as among the best in the world.
They had a vision for a new kind of school where children would be treated with respect and parents would be active participants in their children’s education. From those early schools grew the framework for a new model in education for young children.
Reggio Emilia Approach offers a way for teachers to harness children’s natural curiosity and creativity by encouraging them to work on projects that interest them. It simply means allowing children to guide their teachers in choosing the classroom environment that will challenge and maximize their curiosity. At the heart of this system is the powerful image of the child. Rather than seeing children as empty vessels that require filling with facts, Reggio educators see children as full of potentials, competent and capable of building their own theories.
Principles of Reggio Emilia:
- The Hundred Languages of Children – Children express themselves through many languages (visual, verbal, written, movement and music, etc.)
- The Image of the Child – All children are competent, curious and creative
- The Role of the Environment – The environment serves as an invitation to enter and participate.
- The Role of the Teacher – To facilitate children’s ability to represent what they know and imagine.
- The Importance of Time – Children have the time and guidance to use the same materials repeatedly until they are pleased with the results and deicide to move to a different interest. Time is not set by clock but by children’s own sense of time.
- The Value of Relationships and Interaction of Children in Small Groups – Provides opportunities for negotiation and dynamic communication. As well as the emergence of cognitive conflicts that can initiate a process of new learning and development.
- Observation and Documentation – The teachers learn how to work with children by continuously observing and documenting interactions through written notes, photos, visuals, etc.