The Reggio Emilia Approach to preschool education was started by the schools of the city of Reggio Emilia in post-World War II Italy. It is named after the town of Reggio Emilia in the Emilia Romagna province of northern Italy. In Reggio Emilia, 54 publicly funded schools provide education for children from birth to six years. These schools have been described as among the best in the world.
The schools of Reggio Emilia began as a parent initiative. With the end of World War II, parents in Italy banded together and, with the proceeds from the sale of surplus war materials, founded the town’s first pre-schools. They had a vision for a new kind of school where children would be treated with respect and parents would be active participants in their children’s education.
The parents sought the help of educator Loris Malaguzzi to set up schools that reflected their vision. From those early schools grew the framework for a new model in education for young children.
The Reggio Emilia approach offers a way for teachers to harness their young charges’ natural curiosity and creativity by encouraging them to work on projects that interest them. The approach also encourages children to communicate their new found knowledge and understanding in a variety of media, often with creative results.
Parents are also encouraged to be actively involved in all aspects of the school and their child’s learning.
At the heart of this system is the powerful image of the child. Rather than seeing children as empty vessels that require filling with facts, Reggio educators see children as full of potential, competent and capable of building their own theories.
The Reggio Emilia’s approach to child care and education is distinguished from other efforts both inside and outside of Italy, and attracts worldwide attention. Its emphasis on children’s symbolic languages in the context of a project-oriented curriculum are just one of many features that separate it from other philosophies. This element has been well-documented in two traveling exhibitions, including one created by the Boulder Journey School. The Reggio Emilia approach is executed with a carefully articulated and collaborative approach to the care and education of young children.
Teachers constantly listen to and observe children in the classroom to discover what interests them. They use this knowledge to plan the curriculum and prepare the teaching tools and environment, while at the same time pursuing developmental improvement. That said, while children influences their day, teachers consistently follow an age-appropriate daily schedulethat ensures the structure from which preschoolers benefit.