The Reggio Emilia Approach is an educational philosophy focused on preschool and primary education. It was started by Loris Malaguzzi, who was a teacher himself, and the parents of the villages around Reggio Emilia in Italy after World War II. The destruction from the war, parents believed, necessitated a new, quick approach to teaching their children. They felt that it is in the early years of development that children form who they are as individuals. This led to creation of a program based on the principles of respect, responsibility, and community through exploration and discovery in a supportive and enriching environment based on the interests of the children through a self-guided curriculum BACKGROUND
In educational terms the northern Italian town of Reggio Emilia has a firmly established worldwide reputation for forward thinking and excellence in its approach to early childhood education. North American and Scandinavian educators have long recognised the importance of the continuing educational development that is taking place in the Reggio model, and there is much about the approach that is of interest to educators in Scotland. It is a socio-constructivist model. That is, it is influenced by the theory of Lev Vygotsky, which states that children (and adults) co-construct their theories and knowledge through the...
Some implementations of the Reggio Emilia approach self-consciously juxtapose their conception of the teacher as autonomous co learner with other approaches. For example: Teachers' long-term commitment to enhancing their understanding of children is at the crux of the Reggio Emilia approach. Their resistance to the American use of the term model to describe their program reflects the continuing evolution of their ideas and practices. They compensate for the meager preservice training of Italian early childhood teachers by providing extensive staff development opportunities, with goals determined by the teachers themselves. Teacher autonomy is evident in the absence of teacher manuals, curriculum guides, or achievement tests. The lack of externally imposed mandates is joined by the imperative that teachers become skilled observers of children in order to inform their curriculum planning and implementation.
Two of the prominent features that the Reggio-Emilia school philosophy emphasizes are the natural environment and the project approach. The project approach places the student, rather than the teacher, at the center of the learning process. It views students as co-creators of their education rather than empty vessels to be filled with the right information. With the project approach, instead of teaching from a predetermined lesson plan, teachers engage with the children in their play to better understand their interests. When a question or interest arises from the children, the teacher helps students explore the topic more deeply by asking questions and by providing relevant materials and activities.
Using natural materials to construct the learning environment is another key aspect to Reggio-Emilia. Instead of coloring in a picture of a tree, children might go on a nature walk to collect sticks and leaves, then return to the classroom and make a tree collage by gluing what they've collected onto construction paper. Use of the natural environment extends beyond just materials and overlaps with the project approach. Members of the community with expertise in an aspect of a project are often invited to the school to share their knowledge with the children.
The Reggio-Emilia philosophy aims to empower and engage each child in her/his own learning process. In my experience as a teacher and a student, students learn and retain more when they have a personal investment and passion for the material. I believe the strategies used by Reggio-Emilia can very effectively foster these attitudes toward learning, and I believe that such attitudes increase the ability of a child to master...
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