Philosophy and Strategies
Children are innately curious about their world. The Reggio Emilia approach, hailed by Newsweek (1991) as an exemplary model of early childhood education, embraces the hundred languages of learning, in which children are encouraged to use symbolic languages: drawing, sculpture, dramatic play, sciences, writing, and language.
Projects are selected on the basis of an academic curiosity or a social/urban concern on the part of teachers, parents, or events that direct the attention of children, creating a personalized learning environment that generates interest and uncertainty to provoke children’s creative thinking, problem solving, and exploration. Small groups of children of varying abilities and interests, including children with special needs, work cooperatively on projects. The Reggio Emilia approach, founded and presently headquartered in Reggio Emilia, Italy, embraces accountability and documentation and is data-driven, which account for its international success and renown.
The curricular design of Reggio Emilia-inspired schools and classrooms is committed to prepare a diversity of students to achieve and contribute in a global society by which teachers and parents foster and embrace multicultural awareness required of a 21st century citizen of the world. The images we use are symbols of the approach: the rainbow symbolizes the cheerfulness, joy, and celebration that should be in every classroom and signifies a vision for educational and social change, hope, and promise for a new for a global community. The star symbolizes exceptional educational achievement!
Basic Tenets of the Reggio Emilia Approach
The teacher is viewed as a partner, nurturer, guide, and researcher. Typically, children will stay with one particular teacher for a three-year-period, creating consistency and trust.
Cooperation is the key of the educational system. Teachers become skilled observers of children in order to organize and implement instruction. Teachers divide responsibilities in the classroom, so that one can observe, take notes, and record conversations between children. Observations are shared with a specialized teacher called the atelierista, who uses art as an integrated approach in fostering children’s languages of expression.
The environment is the third teacher. Attention is given to the planning of new space. Schools are generally filled with indoor plants, vines, and natural light. Entries and classrooms capture the attention of both children and adults through the use of photographs, children’s work, occasionally accompanied by dual-language transcriptions of discussions, and displays of project work interspersed with arrays of objects and materials. The environment, whether it be the classroom, outdoors, or community, informs and engages the viewer.
The parent is a partner in the school and curriculum. Parents are vital to the Reggio Emilia philosophy as they are their children’s first teachers and are viewed as partners and collaborators.
Documentation is communication. Teachers take daily notes, photographs, and make audio and video recordings of group discussions and children’s play, which are later displayed.
Educational Reform and the Reggio Emilia Approach
America is experiencing an achievement gap in which an excellent education has developed into a privilege instead of the norm. Education should be the great equalizer to every student, regardless of income, race, or geography. As a change agent for educational reform, The Reggio Experience, LLC believes every child deserves a demanding, standards-based education, one that opens minds and eventually doors to promising futures and positions. In order to achieve this critical goal, schools require great teachers as the essential ingredient in addressing academic success and simultaneously addressing some of the issues of the urban family and community.
The importance of early childhood education and readiness have become priorities in American education. As President Barack Obama emphasized in a State of the Union address, “Tonight, I propose working with states to make high-quality preschools available to every child in America. Every dollar we invest in high-quality early education can save more than seven dollars later on by boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, even reducing violent crime.” (February 2013)
Skills for the 21st Century
As our logo suggests, students are expected to participate and contribute to the global society as citizens of the world. The Reggio approach prepares students for this 21st century challenge by incorporating the following skills:
- Communication and Collaboration
- Relationship Building
- Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
- Decision Making
- Creativity and Innovation
- Information Management
- Effective Use of Technology
- Career and Life Skills
- Cultural Awareness