Early Childhood Education
Reggio Emilia Education
The educational philosophy of Reggio Emilia is focused on preschool and primary education. The name is given from where the movement started in Reggio Emilia, Italy. The approach is known worldwide. The aim of the approach focuses on principles of respect, responsibility and community through exploration and discovery in a supportive and rich classroom environment. The curriculum is self-guided with the belief that children must have some control over the direction of their learning for it to be satisfying and effective. The other important aspect of the Reggio Emilia educational theory is that children must learn in a multi-sensorial way.
Relationships are an important focus in a Reggio Emilia classroom where it is believed that there must be ample opportunities for relationships to develop amongst children. Finally, it is imperative that a child is given every opportunity to express themselves in their classroom settings.
An important term in Reggio Emilia is the “hundred languages of children” this refers to the many ways that children have of expressing themselves which is why self-expression is considered so important in the classroom. They are first encouraged to depict their understanding through ‘symbolic languages’ like art, dramatic play and writing’. Teachers help children to revise, construct and learn how to develop their thoughts and feelings.
Another important role for the child is the one as a social being. The child is encouraged to explore, observe, question and discuss everything to their own understanding within the environment and amongst their peers and teachers. The child is always seen and held in relation to other children, the family, teachers and the community rather than in isolation.
In Italy, the community and the parents are actively involved in memberships that exert significant influence over local government and policy. Primary education is an important part not only to contributing to the community but in shaping it as well.
Just like in Montessori education, the Reggio style of learning stresses that the teacher is a collaborator with the child and not just an instructor. Maria Montessori referred to her teachers not as teachers but as a ‘directress’ guiding children but not dictating to them. In order to develop teacher and student relationships children stay with one main teacher for 3 full years.
The classroom or the environment itself is often referred to as a child’s “third teacher”. The classroom is to extend out not only into other classrooms but throughout the school and out into the community. Light, windows, plants, courtyards, large work spaces, smaller work spaces for group activities are included along with mirrors, photographs, classroom materials, classrooms are connected with telephones and passageways for interconnectedness amongst the school and children’s work are often displayed and always are an important aesthetic to every classroom. Project topics often have to do with relevant classroom interests and issues that become important within the environment therefore giving children a say in what is taught amongst the group. Based on the reciprocal nature of a teacher-directed and child-initiated activity, both teacher and child collaborate together.