The Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education views young children as individuals who are curious about their world
and have the powerful potential to learn from all that surrounds them. Educational, psychological, and sociological influences are important factors to consider in understanding children and working to stimulate learning in appropriate ways. Reggio teachers employ strategies such as exposing children to a wide variety of educational opportunities that encourage self-expression, communication, logical thinking, and problem-solving.
Principles of the Reggio Emilia Approach: The Reggio approach follows four major principles. These are:
Emergent Curriculum. A classroom’s curriculum stems from the particular interests of children. Curriculum topics are derived from talking with children and their families, as well as from things that are known to be interesting to children (puddles, dinosaurs, and so on). Teachers compare notes and observations in team planning sessions to decide which projects would be best suited to children in their classes, what materials will be needed, and how they can
encourage parents and the community to become involved.
In-Depth Projects. These projects are thorough studies of concepts and ideas based on the information gathered about children’s interests. Projects are often introduced to children as adventures, and can last anywhere from a week or two to the entire school year. Teachers act as advisors on these projects, helping children decide in which direction they would like to take their research, how they can represent what they learn, and what materials would be best suited for their representations.
Representational Development. This principal takes into account Howard Gardner’s concept of multiple intelligence. The Reggio Emilia approach calls for the presentation of new ideas and concepts in multiple forms, such as print, art, drama, music, puppetry, and so on. Varied presentations ensure that all children have the chance to understand and connect with the concepts being explored.
Collaboration. The idea of collaboration is seen as necessary to further a child’s cognitive development. Groups both large and small are encouraged to work together to prob
lem-solve using dialogue, comparisons, negotiations, and other important interpersonal skills. Each child’s voice is heard in order to promote a balance between a sense of belonging to the group and a sense of self.