The Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education originated in 1945 in Reggio Emilia, located in Romagna, Italy. It is a method of preschool that focuses on respecting children. Children taught in this method range from birth to age 6. Parents are actively involved in the process. Reggio Emilia is based on the idea that all children are different and learn in different ways.
The basic principles of the Reggio Emilia approach to education include:
- A child is an active participant in their own education.
- The schooling environment is considered a “third educator” after parent and teacher.
- The parent, teacher, and child all work together to foster learning.
- The teacher makes learning visible by observing and documenting what the child does, says and feels, creating a portfolio of the child’s quotes, art, writing, and experiences.
The Reggio Emilia method of learning is a child-centered approach that builds on a child’s interests, curiosities, and strengths. While classrooms are not structured, they are organized by themes to provide a wide range of educational opportunities. Children learn by using “the hundred languages,” which include paint, drawing, clay, and other creative means of expression. Children are also encouraged to offer their own ideas for projects. Each project a child undertakes can last from a few days to several months. Community, mutual respect for peers, and collaboration are important tenets of Reggio Emilia. Children are seen as active participants in the learning process, full of their own ideas and hypotheses to be researched and learned about.
Through the entire learning process, parents are active participants, offering ideas and engaging in every aspect of their child’s education. Teachers act as guides and nurturers, documenting each child’s accomplishments.
A 1991 article in Newsweek called the Reggio Emilia method “an example of a grass-roots project that has become an international role model.”
Reviewed by Eva Benmeleh, March 2020
- Reggio Emilia began in the city of Reggio Emilia in Romagna, Italy.
- It has been used as a learning method since 1945.
- The Reggio Emilia method of learning is a child-centered approach that builds on a child’s interests.
- Parents and the environment are co-educators along with the teacher.