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Reggio Emilia

The Reggio Emilia approach is unique take on teaching—one that makes parents, teachers and children equal shareholders in the learning initiative.

Reggio Emilia is an approach to education from a city of the same name, and it focuses on the educational importance of community and free inquiry as its primary values. Since its development in the 1940s, the Reggio approach has spread into a worldwide network of preschools and kindergartens.

Although the Reggio approach shares some of the values of the better-known Montessori schools, it's not a philosophy with a set system of beliefs.  Rather, it's an approach based around certain fundamental values about how children learn. These values are interpreted in different schools, different contexts and different ways.

The core values are:

The child as an active participant in learning. The Reggio approach “sees a child as a very competent protagonist and initiator who interacts with their environment and they are allowed to follow their own interests.

The significance of environment - The environment of the school is seen as the third educator.  Most Reggio settings include a studio, or “atelier,” which is filled with materials such as clay, paint and writing implements. Children use these materials to represent concepts that they are learning in a hands-on way.

The teacher, parent and child as collaborators in the process of learning - Normally, parents are not seen as part of the educational process in an authentic way.  But the Reggio approach views the parent as an essential resource for the child's learning.

Making learning visible - In Reggio-inspired settings, teachers use a variety of documentation methods, such as cameras, and observations, to track children's thoughts and ideas as they play together or work with materials. For example, each child has a portfolio binder, including photographs of their projects, quotes from the child, artwork and writing samples.  The children take great pride and satisfaction in their portfolios.

Although adapting the values of the Reggio Emilia approach can be challenging for teachers, it's worth it. Validating the children's work and supporting the child to go deeper into their perception of the world is the most important part of the process