The Reggio Emilia Approach to early childhood education is an innovative approach to education that has gained popularity all over the world. Its origins date back to the 1940's where it was first implemented in the city of Reggio Emilia in Italy. The role of children in their educational experiences is particularly important.
Reggio Allows Children to have more input into their own Learning Experiences
This approach focuses less on the typical "structure" of most early childhood centres where the parents become less involved in teaching as the child enters a structured setting with lessons taught by a teacher. Instead, the Reggio Approach is more centred on the children, teachers, and even the parents taking on an active role in the child's education. Some main core values of this way of thinking include the child being active in their own learning experiences, focusing on the importance of the learning environment, involving both teachers and parents in the learning process, and making learning "visible" to the children using a variety of methods. Here we focus on the aspect of allowing the child to participate and guide their own learning experiences.
Allowing Children To Nurture Their Natural Curiosity
The belief behind Reggio Emilia is that each child is strong, capable, full of knowledge, highly curious, and full of potential. This educational approach inspires us to believe that the child's own interests and innate knowledge building skills can guide them to want to learn more about and understand the world around them. Children are viewed as great communicators who use communication as a process of discovery. This could be seen through the asking of questions, through the use of the many types of expressive language forms, and through play. It encourages children to investigate and actively explore their environment using these various language skills, and feels that learning is a continual process where adults and children collaborate together to discover answers to questions.
Provides An Environment Conducive To Learning
The Reggio Approach believes that the learning environment should provide inspiration and provocations for children. Emphasis is placed on learning spaces that are filled with natural light, and possess order as well as beauty. The space should encourage both rich communication and exploration opportunities. The learning environment itself is actually considered to be somewhat of a third teacher for children, in addition to the teachers and parents. Classrooms would be arranged so that they provide plenty of thought provoking hands-on learning experiences for children. For example, you might find a vast array of recycled materials living collaboratively alongside an abundance of natural resources within the learning spaces.
The Child Contributes To Their Own Learning Experience
Interaction with the environment is important in Reggio inspired learning, and children are encouraged to follow their own personal interests. For example, a teacher may identify a particular interest that the children in her classroom have. She then may enter into a dialogue with the children so as to discover further their initial theories and ideas. After revisiting these with the children suggestions may be offered, provocations in the form of resources may appear in the classroom, so as to allow the children to explore and critique their interests further. Through their exploration, whatever the investigation, there will be learning opportunities through which they can promote their literacy, mathematical, problem solving and reflective thinking skills.
The Reggio Emilia Approach allows children to become more involved in their own educational experiences and focuses on exploring their own theories and interests, which promotes effective reflective learning.