What is the Reggio Emilia Approach?
Reggio Emilia philosophy is an early childhood education approach, prevalent in various preschools across the world. This approach observes what children are curious about and what excites and challenges them. Teachers record/document these observations and then come up with ways to enhance those skills both academically as well as socially.
You’ll never find two Reggio Emilia inspired institutions look the same as the interests and needs of children differ from one another.
The Reggio Emilia Approach gets its name from the place of its origin, Reggio Emilia, a city Located in Emilia Romagna in Northern Italy. Soon after World War II, a teacher, education innovator and the founder of this approach, Loris Malaguzzi, worked with parents and teachers of this region to develop an approach for early education based on relationships. This approach has been developed and continues to be evolved over the years and is followed by many educational organizations throughout the world today.
Values of Reggio Emilia Approach
Relationships: A child’s relationship with other children, their environment, their adults.
Project Work: Children decide what they want to explore/investigate and under the guidance of their teachers they work accordingly.
Documenting/ Recording the observations: Each observation about a child is documented thus making their thinking visible and bringing up a child’s strong points.
Being a good listener: Valuing children’s voices, thoughts and opinions by listening to them and working as per their interests.
Enables a child to reach his/her potential by making them realize who they are, and not by what they will become.
Principles of Reggio Emilia Approach
Education based on Interrelationships
A network between children, parents and teachers is formed who work together to create and communicate the spirit of early childhood as a time to explore, create and be happy. Each one of them has a specific role to play and rights within the school.
Role of the Teacher:
The personality of a child shapes the role of the teacher in four major components:
Guide: They nurture, learn and solve problems by interacting with the child.
Observers: They learn and observe a child’s strengths and weaknesses and revisits them ensuring the positives comes out in each scenario and are showcased.
Documenters: They observe, listen and record their observations for displaying as well as for revisiting.
Supporters: They speak for children and present their work to other community members.
The teacher along with other school workers contributes to the study as well as preparation of the educational content, practices and objectives. This is usually done through an open discussion among the other staff members, coordinators and parent’s advisory committee.
Role of Parents
As teachers, parents too are an essential component of the school. All families are members in the school and they are actively involved to be a part of a child’s learning experiences and welfare. Parent participation not only helps in achieving a fuller knowledge about a child but is also a more effective form of devising the best educational methods, values and content for a child’s learning.
Image of the Child
Children are viewed as curious, full of potential and knowledge components who are interested in connecting to the world around them. Teachers are aware of a child’s strengths and they construct the work environment that meets his/her areas of interest so that they respond and learn appropriately.
Environment or the space within the school is considered to encourage communication as well as relations. Teachers intentionally organize and plan for various spaces for different children whether they work independently or with small or large groups. The balance is maintained between the child directed and teacher initiated activities.
The children may accompany their teachers in small and large groups during the space arrangement since the arrangement of the structures, objectives and activities encourages exploring and problem solving learning skills.
Projects are not decided beforehand, these ideas come from a child’s interest and a teachers observations for a child. These projects may vary from a few days to few weeks. Projects are the base for a child’s learning so the topics for each child are selected with great care.
The main emphasis is on the idea that “learning by doing” is a great tool to understand a concept. The teachers often work on projects with a few small groups of children while the remaining class continues to evolve itself in other self-selected activities.
Documentation is an essential element of Reggio Emilia Approach. It is the basis for studying the learning curve of a child. What they do, how they grasp and learn things are all important objectives of documentation. Done on daily basis, documentation is a reflection of a child’s interaction with his/her peers, adults, teachers etc.
Documentation not only provides a medium to create curriculum but also provides a rational for its course since teachers gain an insight into the thoughts and actions of a child. It can be done by means of videos, conversations, notes, recordings etc. Teachers observe closely how a child behaves in class, materials they use etc thus helping in understanding and identifying the strengths of a child and which all areas needs to be revisited and require more support and practice.
This revisiting process not only gives an opportunity to a child to discover his/her problem areas but also helps them to get involved in working on the next steps.
The Reggio Emilia approach no doubt is gaining interest of many educational institutions because of the key principles that value children as well as their families. It does provide alternative ways of thinking about education and pushing down the curriculum. It provides child led learning environment and encourages learning on deeper level and with research. You can expect lot of creative projects on community and nature.
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