Reggio Emilia Philosophy

History of Reggio Emilia

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.

Principles of Reggio Emilia:

  • Children are strong, interested, capable and curious.
  • Children learn best working with others: with other children, family, teachers, and the community.
  • Children have “the hundred languages” through which show us what they know in many ways – they move, draw, paint, build, sculpt, do collages, act, sing, play music and more
  • Children learn from the spaces they are in – they need beautiful, orderly space where everything has a purpose and can help children learn.
  • Children are capable of long-term, sustained learning when the topic is of interest to them.
  • Teachers listen to and observe the children closely, ask questions, and explore the children’s ideas.
  • Teachers provide experiences that “provoke” children’s thinking and learning.
  • Teachers document the children’s work so that they can talk to each other and the children and better understand the children’s thinking and education in general.
  • Parents provide ideas and skills, which make them active partners in the children’s learning.


The Reggio Emilia Approach to Early Learning is based on:

  • Child-centered learning
  • Creativity and aesthetics
  • Collaboration
  • Environments
  • Documentation
  • Working in partnership with parents


Teachers incorporating aspects of this approach into their program will:

  • Build on the strengths, competencies, and curiosities of the children (the “image of the child”)
  • Encourage, support, and develop collaborative learning
  • Have less structured rooms, but carefully planned spaces and well-organized materials, so that children are free to spend more time on projects that interest them and are often able to move between activities at their own pace (“the environment as the third teacher”)
  • Offer a wide variety of basic art media, including paints, clay construction, drawing , collage (“the hundred languages”)
  • Listen to and implement children’s ideas for projects on which to work (“negotiated curriculum”)
  • Display the children’s creations and photographs, showing the children at work in the classroom (“documentation”)
  • Build a portfolio of children’s work at school (“documentation”)
  • Make a great effort to communicate with parents and to help parents feel involved in their child’s project work (“parents as partners”)

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.


Reggio Emilia Inspired Education

Stemming from and inspired by the Reggio Emilia philosophy of early childhood education, Children’s Garden of Learning embraced this concept because it fosters independence, self-help skills, and creativity. READ MORE

Kindergarten Readiness

We concentrate on the top readiness skills as outlined by Ellen H. Parlapiano in Parent and Child, such as enthusiasm for learning, solid oral-language skills, the ability to listen, the desire to be independent, the ability to play well with others, strong fine-motor skills, and basic letter and number recognition. READ MORE

Developmentally Appropriate Practices

CGL provides an environment that offers content, materials, activities and methodologies that are both age-appropriate and individually-appropriate for each child. READ MORE