REGGIO EMILIA APPROACH
hundred worlds to discover
a hundred worlds to invent
a hundred worlds to dream."
Malaguzzi, founder of the Reggio-Emilia method
At the heart of the Reggio philosophy
is the belief that children are full of curiosity and creativity; they are
not empty memory banks waiting to be filled with facts, figures and dates.
Reggio-inspired curriculum is flexible
and emerges from children's ideas, thoughts and observations. The Reggio goal
is to cultivate within children a lifelong passion for learning and exploration.
The Reggio Emilia approach to early
childhood education is based on over forty years of experience in the Reggio
Emilia Municipal Infant/toddler and Preschool Centers in Italy. It places
emphasis on children's symbolic languages in the context of a project-oriented
curriculum. Learning is viewed as a journey; and education as building relationships
with people (both children and adults) and creating connections between ideas
and the environment.
International recognition of the Reggio
preschools exploded in 1991, when a panel of experts commissioned by Newsweek
magazine identified the preschools of Reggio Emilia as one of the "best
top ten schools in the world" (Newsweek 1991). Today, leading corporations
and institutions are increasingly adopting the Reggio Emilia approach for
their preschool programs. In recent years, notably, Google and the World Bank
have become prominent advocates for this approach to early childhood education.
Reggio Emilia has won numerous awards
in 1992, Reggio Schools were awarded the Danish Lego Prize. Also in 1992,
an analogous award was made to Reggio Municipal infant-toddler centers and
preschools by the Kohl Foundation in Chicago. In 1994, the Hans Christian
Andersen Prize was awarded. In the same year, similar recognition was given
by the Mediterranean Association of International Schools. In 1997, the Municipal
Preschools and Infant Toddler Centers at Reggio Emilia started a collaborative
project with the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
The Reggio Approach is based on a comprehensive
philosophy, underpinned by several fundamental, guiding principles.
- The child as protagonist, collaborator,
- The teacher as partner, nurturer,
guide, and researcher.
- Cooperation as the foundation of
the educational system.
- The environment as the "third
- The Parent as Partner
- Documentation as communication
An emergent curriculum is
one that builds upon the interests of children. Topics for study are captured
from the talk of children, through community or family events, as well as
the known interests of children (puddles, shadow, dinosaurs, etc.). Team planning
is an essential component of the emergent curriculum. Teachers work together
to formulate the possible directions of a project, the materials needed, and
possible parent and/or community support and involvement.
Projects, also emergent, are in-depth studies of concepts, ideas, and interests
which arise from the children. Considered as an adventure, projects may last
one week or could continue throughout the school year. Throughout a project,
teachers help children make decisions about the direction of study, the ways
in which the group will research the topic, the medium that will demonstrate
and showcase the topic, and the selection of materials needed for the work.
Development: Consistent with Howard Gardner's notion of schooling
for multiple intelligences, the Reggio Emilia approach calls for the integration
of the graphic arts as tools for cognitive, linguistic, and social development.
Presentation of concepts in multiple forms -- print, art, construction, drama,
music, puppetry, and shadow play -- are viewed as essential to children's
understanding of experience.
Collaborative group work, both large and small, is considered valuable and
necessary to advance cognitive development. Children are encouraged to talk,
critique, compare, negotiate, hypothesize, and problem-solve through group
work. Within the Reggio Emilia approach, different approaches toward the same
investigation are all valued, and thus children are given access to many tools
and media to express themselves. The relationship and collaboration with the
home, school and community all support the learning of the child.
Researchers: The teacher's role within the Reggio Emilia approach
is complex. Working as co-teachers, the role of the teacher is first and foremost
to be that of a learner alongside the children. The teacher is a teacher-researcher,
a resource and guide as she/he lends expertise to children (Edwards, 1993).
Within such a teacher-researcher role, educators carefully listen, observe,
and document children's work and the growth of community in their classroom
and are to provoke, co-construct, and stimulate thinking and peer collaboration.
Teachers are committed to reflection about their own teaching and learning.
Features of The
Reggio Emilia Approach
- to co-explore the learning experience
with the children
- to provoke ideas, problem solving, and conflict resolution
- to take ideas from the children and return them for further exploration
- to organize the classroom to be accessible and interesting to the child
- to organize materials to help children make thoughtful decisions
- to document children's progress: video, audio recording, photos, portfolios
- to help children see the connections in learning and experiences
- to help children express their knowledge through projects
- to have a dialogue about their projects with parents and other teachers
- to foster the connection between home, school and community
- can emerge from children's ideas
- can be provoked by teachers
- can be introdu ced by teachers knowing what is of interest to children:
shadows, puddles, tall buildings, construction sites, heavy equipment, nature,
- should be long enough to develop
over time, to discuss new ideas, to negotiate over, to induce conflicts,
to revisit, to see progress, to see movement of ideas
- should be concrete, personal from real experiences, important to children,
should be "large" enough for diversity of ideas and rich in interpretive/representational
- explore first: what is this material,
what does it do, before "what can I do" with the material
- should have variation in color, texture, pattern: help children "see"
the colors, tones, hues; help children "feel" the texture, the
similarities and differences
- should be presented in an artistic manner--it too should be aesthetically
pleasing to look at--it should invite you to touch, admire, inspire
- should be revisited throughout many projects to help children see the
For more information on the Reggio
Emilia approach to early childhood education, visit: