The Reggio Emilia approach is an educational philosophy and pedagogy focused on preschool and primary education. This approach is a student-centred and constructivist self-guided curriculum that uses self-directed, experiential learning in relationship-driven environments. The program is based on the principles of respect, responsibility and community through exploration, discovery and play.
At the core of this philosophy is an assumption that children form their own personality during the early years of development and that they are endowed with “a hundred languages”, through which they can express their ideas. The aim of the Reggio approach is to teach children how to use these symbolic languages (e.g. painting, sculpting, drama) in everyday life. This approach was developed after World War II by pedagogist Loris Malaguzzi and parents in the villages around Reggio Emilia, Italy. The name of the approach therefore derives its name from the city.
The possibilities for how our surroundings can impact and influence our experience are innumerable. When materials are stored and presented in respectful and inviting ways, children are learning to use them with both creativity and respect. When the space is maintained in a careful and loving way, a suggestion to maintain our relationships with the same thoughtfulness is encouraged. The resources of the school invite interactions which encourage communication that leads to joyful connections and discovery.
The studio and it’s materials and tools inspire and support the expression of ideas and foster individual and collaborative project work. Learning and wondering can be expressed in countless ways and children have near limitless access to experiment with a variety of materials in the well-equipped space – materials that range from paper, pens, chalk and paint to wire, wood, shells and any manner of repurposed and found objects. The act of sourcing materials can sometimes become a project unto itself as children and teachers explore our broader community and what treasures can be found.
The door at The Room To Grow is always open and there is a constant exchange of information, ideas and questions between the children, teachers and parents. Every effort is made to maintain a dialogue around community awareness, responsibility and involvement. Our organization values collaboration and makes it visible in the way the teaching teams organize and share responsibilities, through the use of the democratic process to create agreements and pro-social solutions and by accessing our surrounding community in an intentional and meaningful way.
Education, at its best, is a joyful and possibility-filled experience. Children and teachers are generating questions and ideas that fuel an environment where all participants are engaged in robust and challenging exploration. Learning through play and inquiry provides infinite opportunities for communication, problem solving and creative self-expression, while constructing individual knowledge and meaning. The work of forming the unique relationships that make up each year’s community leads to a rich and rewarding shared experience.
Image of the Child
By first reflecting on our personal experiences as children, then on our journey as teachers and parents, we can begin to embrace an image of the child that recognizes and values the inherent competence of the individual. By approaching learning from a strength-based approach, we can empower the earliest learners to take risks, pursue ideas, express themselves confidently and be open to collaboration and compromise. Teachers present themselves as co-researchers, ready to share in the children’s inquiry through discussion and documentation to honor the work, deepen understanding and celebrate process.