St. Mary’s Child Center’s early childhood program is inspired by the Reggio Emilia philosophy, recognized worldwide for its innovative approach to education. “Hailed as the best pre-schools in the world by Newsweek magazine in 1991, the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education has attracted the worldwide attention of educators, researchers and just about anyone interested in early childhood education best practices. Even the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)’s revised version of developmentally appropriate practices (DAP) guidelines also included examples from Reggio approach. Today, Reggio approach has been adopted in USA, UK, New Zealand, Australia and many other countries.”
“Loris Malaguzzi (1920-1994) founded the ‘Reggio Emilia’ approach at a city in northern Italy called Reggio Emilia. The ‘Reggio’ approach was developed for municipal child-care and education programs serving children below six. The approach requires children to be seen as competent, resourceful, curious, imaginative, inventive and possess a desire to interact and communicate with others.”
“The ‘Reggio’ vision of the child as a competent learner has produced a strong child-directed curriculum model. The curriculum has purposive progression but not scope and sequence. Teachers follow the children’s interests and do not provide focused instruction in reading and writing. Reggio approach has a strong belief that children learn through interaction with others, including parents, staff and peers in a friendly learning environment.”
Principals of the Reggio Emilia philosophy include:
- The strong image of the child with the vision that every child is competent, resourceful, curious, imaginative, inventive, a powerful learner and possesses a desire to interact and communicate with others.
- The role of the environment as teacher: Educators are very concerned about what the environment teaches the child. Great attention is given to the look and feel of the classroom and learning spaces. The learning atmosphere is filled with playfulness and joy.
- The teacher as researcher: the teacher’s role is complex. The role of the teacher is first to be that of a learner alongside the children. The teacher is a teacher-researcher and guide as she/he lends expertise to the children. The teacher listens carefully, observes, provides provocations for learning, documents children’s work and the growth of community. The teacher is reflective about his/her own teaching and learning. Teachers share information and mentor each other.
- Long-term projects: Children’s learning is supported and enriched through in-depth project work in which provocation, responding, recording, playing, exploring, hypothesis building and testing occurs.
- Documentation as Assessment and Advocacy: Project work is documented and displayed, allowing the children to express, revisit, construct and reconstruct their feelings, ideas and understandings.
- Children’s multiple symbolic languages: The arts are used as a symbolic language through which to express their understandings in their project work. Graphic arts are integrated as tools for cognitive, linguistic and social development. Concepts and hypotheses are presented in print, art, construction, drama, puppetry, photography and shadow play.
- Home-school relationship: Children, teachers, families and community are interactive and work together. Programs are family centered and focus on each child’s relation to others. Engagement and relationships with families are considered to be essential.
Click here to see our Reggio Inspired Environments.
“Having kids be able to choose what they want to do and us teach from what their interests are is incredible. We aren’t some extremely structured program where we have to go by the books. I think all of us teachers can agree that we learn from them everyday. It’s not just them learning, we’re learning right along with them.” – Mimi Barry, St. Mary’s Educator
What makes the Reggio Emilia approach stand out?
In a nutshell, the Reggio approach articulates children to acquire skills of critical thinking and collaboration.
(Information on the Reggio Emilia Approach from www.brainy-child.com)