Over the decades, there have been many theories and frameworks for approaching early childhood education. One approach that became popular following World War II was the Reggio Emilia Approach, a philosophy of education that was named for the region in Italy where it was first conceived. Following the war, educators believed that a new approach to childhood learning was necessary, leading to the wide adoption of this philosophy and its values.
What is the Reggio Emilia Approach?
First developed by teacher Loris Malaguzzi, the Reggio Emilia Approach focuses on the importance of community and free inquiry. In this approach to early childhood education, children are viewed as competent, resourceful, strong, resilient and full of curiosity. Children are an active participant in their own education. Emphasis is put on allowing a child to drive their own learning, based on their interests. As they interact with others and the environment around them, children will gain knowledge through their own investigation.
In the Reggio Emilia Approach, children are also encouraged to explore their ideas through a variety of “languages”, including art, music, written and spoken language, pretend play, sculpture and more. Questions are welcomed, and are not answered solely by the educator; instead, the teacher and child will explore together to find the answer.
How Has it Influenced Approaches to Childcare Today?
Since it first appeared in the 1940s, this philosophy of early childhood education has been adopted by child care providers across the world. Many preschools are adopting a child-guided curriculum that has its roots in the Reggio Emilia Approach. Today, directing your curriculum to match the specific interests of the children in your classroom is a common practice. For example, should ocean life become an interest of several students, opportunities to reinforce math, problem solving and language skills could be developed around this particular subject.
The idea of a light, bright airy classroom with open space is another concept with a basis in the Reggio Emilia Approach. This post-WWII framework encouraged a learning environment filled with natural light, beauty, order and open space. The child’s environment was considered to be a “teacher” as much as the actual teacher. Today, the trend towards natural playscapes, clutter-free daycare facilities and opportunities for collaborative play and learning are a reference to the popular child care principles of the past.
Modern documentation techniques are also a reflection of the Reggio Emilia Approach. Child care centers influenced by this approach place an emphasis on carefully documenting each child’s progress and thinking in a variety of media. Photographs, drawings, transcripts and more are all recorded to document the learning process for further study and evaluation. With the rise of child care apps like HiMama, this multimedia approach to documentation is made simpler and easier to reference at a later time or share with others.
Are there any other areas of your current curriculum or child care philosophy that are influenced by the Reggio Emilia Approach? We’d love to hear how this approach to early childhood education has impacted modern day childcare – tweet us @himamasocial!