The Reggio Emilia approach
The Reggio Emilia approach was born in Italy, in the small city of Reggio Emilia, in 1945, at the end of the second world war; a few people led by Loris Malaguzzi agreed that in order to rebuild the future, people’s lives and to make sure the same events would not happen again, the focus needed to be on children’s education. An education which would develop individuals’ critical thinking and ability to think for themselves; a democratic education, to promote cooperation and sharing; an emphasis on creativity and the ability to develop social and intellectual skills using, in Malaguzzi’s own words, ‘the hundred languages of children’, where the same concept can be expressed and learned in several forms, from language to art, through body movement and so on.
At the centre of the Reggio Emilia approach is a competent and curious child, full of potential which needs to be guided. The child has an innate ability to learn and, just like a scientist, approaches the world around him/her with a trial and error approach, formulating hypotheses and testing them in order to improve his/her knowledge of the world.
The role we play
The role of teachers is to lead children to discovery and learning by setting projects in a rich and stimulating environment. The environment itself is key to children’s learning and becomes a teacher providing children the instruments of discovery.
Observation is key in this approach, as only a in-depth knowledge of children personal attitudes, interests and ability levels can lead to the formulation of projects relevant to the children’s development. Observation is corroborated by extensive pedagogical documentation, where teaching, learning, children’s ideas and observations, and areas for improvements are recorded and become essential in the future learning processes.
The Reggio Emilia approach sees the school as part of the community, where teachers, children and parents all contribute to the educational process. Parents are welcome in the classroom, where they can access their children’s everyday activities and progress through the documentation.