The Reggio Emilia Approach originated in the town of Reggio Emilia in Italy out of a movement towards progressive and cooperative early childhood education after World War II. It was developed by Loris Malaguzzi. The approach is an innovative and inspiring approach which values the child as capable and resilient with an innate curiosity that drives their interest to understand their world and their place within it. The Reggio Emilia philosophy is based upon the following set of principles:
• Children should have control over the direction of their learning allowing them to pursue their own interests and build upon ideas at their own pace:
• It promotes creativity and expressive arts and allows the child to use all their senses and all their languages to learn;
• It follows an emergent curriculum based upon children’s interests and abilities which is developed through good teacher-child relationship and a high level of observations of each child play.
• It recognises the importance of relationships and communication between children and with teachers and parents.
A Reggio Emilia inspired environment should be open and free flowing between rooms and outdoor learning spaces are valued as important as the indoor. Good quality, stimulating open-ended and interesting materials are made freely accessible. The environment is referred to as the “third teacher” as its importance is seen to be critical for young children’s development. Much of the instruction takes place in the form of projects where they have opportunities to explore, observe, hypothesize, question, and discuss to clarify their understanding. Teachers are encouraged to observe and allow children to experiment, make mistakes and self-correct. Teachers work in partnership with the child and provide many play prompts or “provocations” to extend their knowledge through play. Much documentation is completed in the form of photographs, art work and transcripts of children’s thoughts and explanations so as to make a child’s learning visible.