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What is the Reggio Emilia Educational Approach?
- Originated in the town of Reggio Emilia, Italy after World War II. The town was devastated after the war. The citizens wanted to teach their children to think on their own so they would not fall victim to following another corrupt leader like Mussolini. As they didn’t have money to build new schools, they taught their children with everyday items and items from nature.
- Currently there are 33 city-owned child care centers in Reggio Emilia, Italy that follow this philosophy. The first center opened in 1963.
- There are 25 criteria to meet when enrolling in the Italian Reggio Emilia centers. Low income and disadvantaged children have first priority.
- Family participation is encouraged.
- Professional development for teachers is on-going and research based.
- Working collectively
- Teachers observe, interpret, and document which makes the learning taking place more visible.
- Children have 100 languages (meaning countless ways to express themselves)
- There is a strong connection between the community and the center
- The environment (classroom) is the 3rd teacher. The other two teachers are the children and the classroom teacher.
The Key Ideas
- The children’s work dominates the classroom rather than commercial art or designs.
- All children have potential and it should be cultivated.
- Group project work is encouraged to build social-emotional skills and allows children to learn from each other/borrow each other’s knowledge.
- Small groups of children or individuals can share their work or findings with the large group.
- Play and the joy of learning are strongly connected and inseparable.
- Teachers can pose a question to the group to encourage problem-solving (rather than just providing all the answers).
- Children are given time to make connections and form ideas.
- Children are given realistic choices and their ideas are valued.
- Documentation is posted in classrooms/hallways/common areas to make the learning visible to all. It builds awareness of what is happening in the classroom.
- The environment is calm, has natural items, simple, and incorporates the use of light.
- The Reggio Emilia approach supports social, social-communication, cognitive, fine motor, and gross motor skills.
How the Reggio Emilia Educational Approach Prepare a Child for School?
- Fosters problem-solving, collaboration, and independent thinking (math/science)
- Shows children their center is a part of the community (social studies)
- Children have a better chance for success in school when family participation is high (social studies)
- It provides children with teachers who are continuing their education and research. (professionalism)
- Children can express themselves in a variety of ways (language arts/social-communication)
- Children realize their ideas are of value (social studies)
- Topics are covered in-depth and are based on what the children know (prior knowledge), want to know (desired knowledge), and review what they learned in the process (new knowledge)
- Helps children realize they can learn from their environments: nature (science), classroom (cognitive), and community (social studies)
- Children understand they are to respect all environments (social studies)
- It teaches resourcefulness and using a variety of familiar materials (science)
- Encourages movement (running, jumping, climbing, etc) that helps develop large muscles and provide exercise (physical education)
- Encourages movement (using pencils, crayons, clay, scissors, paints, etc.) that helps develop small muscles (language arts/writing)
- Provides opportunities for rich language development through collaboration, exploration, music, and stories. (language arts)
- Builds understanding of simple concepts of time (such as night and day, today, tomorrow, yesterday, etc) (math/science)
- Encourages time spent learning to sort, classify and manipulate a wide variety of materials (math/science)
- Allows for curiosity and exploration in a safe way that gives them emotional support to try new things (social/emotional)
- Gives opportunity for group projects that encourage sharing, learning, focusing, and listening (social/emotional)