What Is the Reggio Emilia Philsophy
What can a Reggio Emilia Education offer?
There are many different philosophies and approaches when it comes to the education of children in an early learning setting. Reggio is a popular child-centred approach that had its start in Italy just after World War II, named after the town of it’s creation. The Reggio approach identifies with the role of collaboration among children, teachers and parents; the co-construction of knowledge; the interdependence of individual and social learning; and the role of culture in understanding this interdependence. (Baji Rankin, 2004)
The Reggio Philosophy
Reggio is predominantly aimed at infancy (ages 3-6), however elements of the approach can be included in any educational setting.
Loris Malaguzzi coined the term “The 100 languages of children” and believed that children learned in a deep, broad and multi-dimensional way
Reggio Emilia explained simply
- Child Centric
- Based on philosophers including John Dewey, Jean Piaget, Lev Vygotsky ,David Hawkins, Jerome Bruner, Howard Gardner but many more and continues to develop even today
- Education must consider where the child sits within their world, not in isolation to it.
- Children are active citizens and contributing members of society.
- Parents are partners in education.
- According to Lella Gandini in reference to the recognition of a Reggio Inspired space would be somewhere, “where adults have thought about the quality and the instructive power of space”
- Project based with great important placed on the what is happening. There is something almost sacred about the idea of learning in a Reggio Space. Acknowledgement that something very special is happening.
- The learning environment is crucial (so important, in fact, it is viewed as ‘the third teacher’).
- Both the teachers and the children are active researchers, partners and participants in each others learning. There is balance and equality in their roles as active researchers.
- There is no curriculum but rather learnings that are guided by the interests, ideas and hypotheses of the children.
- Art & creativity are key elements
- Children are encouraged to tap into their empathy and build relationships with each other and with adults in their environment.
- Documentation of learning is rich and visual
“There is an inner voice that pushes children on, but this force is greatly multiplied when they are convinced that facts and ideas are resources, just as their friends and the adults in their lives are precious resources. It is especially at this point that children expect – as they have from the beginning of their life adventure – the help and truthfulness of grownups”. Loris Malaguzzi (From the catalogue of the exhibit ‘The Hundred Languages of Children’)
After World War II, Italy was in a phase of rebuilding and renewal. A teacher named Loris Malaguzzi began an independent school in the city of Reggio Emilia with the purpose of educating children from the surrounding villages and supporting the return of women back into the workforce.
Words from a highly experienced and respected Reggio inspired Early Childhood educator:
“I believe that every child is a capable and curious learner. I value the knowledge and experiences that each child brings and listen respectfully to their thinking. I become not only a facilitator of their learning but also explore, investigate and discover beside each child. With the children I create a learning environment that is engaging and safe and builds a sense of belonging. I plan and develop learning provocations and experiences that respond to each child’s mode of learning- 100 Languages. I share the journey of their learning with the children, their families and communities by displaying drawings, thinking conversations and photos of our learning. I’m an early childhood educator inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach.” -Suzie Powell, Early Childhood teacher and mentor, WA
What does this mean for you?
If you are looking for a child centred program that values an holistic approach to learning and valuing creativity as much as literacy and numeracy, run by highly skilled and trained teaching staff, this could be the right place for you. Teachers define their roles not so much as ‘givers of information’ but as ‘guides, observers and facilitators’. This ensures an environment of mutual respect and allows children to embrace their natural urge to explore, discover and develop deep understanding of the world around them.
The Reggio Emilia Philosophy was not easy to write or to keep to one page (Infact both myself and a writer contributed to this). It was even harder to convey the value to you, as parents about why you should be considering whether the Reggio Philosophy is right for you and your family. It is so all encompassing, so RICH, that it is something that you really need to appreciate first, so.. I guess you could start by seeking to understand the idealism behind it, the reason it was created, the potential of the philosophy from a theoretical viewpoint in terms of how they SEE your child. THEN when you do, I think it is a matter of walking into different spaces and really feeling the space, its quality, its depth and then opening a dialogue of discovery with the teachers.
The greatest value that was gained from researching this method was in making sure (as a parent), you ask lots of questions when you enrol at an early learning centre regardless of the teaching philosophy. Will they consider your child’s individual interests? how will they do this? how will they communicate with you and document the journey of your children so you can be a part of it – how will they ensure this experience for your child is exceptional. Ask- do they know what the Reggio Emilia Philosophy is? You will find that many quality centres in Brisbane guide themselves using this philosophy, some placing great emphasis on it. See below for more resources to assist you in better understanding the Reggio Emilia Philosophy.
Reggio Resources and more information
Reggio Emilia Australia Information Exchange draws on the educational project in Reggio Emilia as the ongoing catalyst for thinking, re search and advocacy in Australian educational settings.
https://www.pinterest.com/reggiochildren/ A pinterest page with hundreds of Reggio Inspired ideas
We thank Kids Early Learning Centre in Brisbane for asking us to share this information which aligns with their way of educating Brisbane Kids in one of their many spaces across Brisbane. Find more about them here