The Learning Method of Reggio Emilia
What is Reggio Emilia?
Reggio Emilia is an early childhood and primary educational approach championed by Loris Malaguzzi of Reggio Emilia, Italy just after World War II. The approach asks parents and teachers to recognize children as “rich in potential, driven by the power of wanting to grow” (Wurm, 2005). Children exhibit a desire to grow. Children are naturally curious questioners and researchers. These are the guiding principles of Reggio Emilia.
The learning space is child-inspired; child-sized furniture, large windows low enough for children to see out of, and flexible floor-plans used for different purposes. You’ll find many of the components you would expect to see in a quality preschool setting: art space, kitchen, group meeting space, rest areas, construction areas, dress up/house play areas, reading areas, table top games, and bulletin boards with student work.
In Reggio Emilia centers, educators consider “the environment as the third teacher.” The environment’s design ensures students feel safe and supported as they explore. Their growth and development can happen without constant adult interference. Ultimately, the goal is for students to conduct their own investigations and build independence and respect, learn responsibility, and develop community.
Generally, Reggio curriculum uses projects. Projects involve thought, planning, preparation, and execution. As adults, we tackle complex projects every day. From the start, Reggio students build fundamental planning and organization skills. In essence, three principles guide project planning and development:
- Knowledge-building is not linear
- Knowledge construction is a group process
- Children produce their own theories from which they take inspiration
To summarize, while a particular school that uses a Reggio approach may have a curriculum, it is unique to needs of individuals as well as the group. The learning space and environment facilitates learning, growth, and development using their natural strengths and curiosity. The student’s interests, needs, and desires determine the projects. With this understanding, children have some control over their own education.
Written by Sarah Kamm, Novastar Prep Elementary Education tutor
Interested in learning more?
North American Reggio Emilia Alliance www.reggioalliance.org
“The Hundred Languages of Children” by C. Edwards, L. Gandini, and G. Forman
“Working in the Reggio Way” by Julianne P. Wurm