Reggio Emilia is a small town in northern Italy. After the second world war the inhabitants of the town recognised the need to work together to create an educational system that would enable children to become strong citizens. The approach recognises that for children to become strong citizens a family needs the support of the community. The Reggio Emilia experience has been influencing early education across Europe since the 1980’s.
The philosophies of Reggio Emilia include the belief that children are citizens with rights and those rights must but be supported and promoted by all adults. They believe that children communicate in many ways (The 100 Languages of the Child) and that these ‘languages’ must be supported by adults and through the environment. Reggio Emilia Centres are designed and arranged to provide beautiful, inspiring, provoking resources in an environment that is rich and stimulating.
Loris Malaguzzi the founder of the Reggio Emilia approach wrote,
“……we consider the environment to be an essential constituent element of any theoretical or political research in education. We hold to be equally valuable the rationality of the environment, its capacity for harmonious coexistence, and its highly important forms and functions. Moreover, we place enormous value on the role of the environment as a motivating and animating force in creating spaces for relations, options, and emotional and cognitive situations that produce a sense of well-being and security.”
Each Reggio centre, whether purpose built or redesigned, has within it a central ‘Piazza’ These spaces are places where the children, staff and parents can meet to communicate, play and share. The Piazza within each centre captures the essence of Italian life as it mimics the place in each town or city where people and visitors meet. Here they drink coffee, eat and share the time of day with one another. The Reggio Emilia approach recognises that children need to watch, hear and meet with adults in order to grow, develop and learn the skills of life and to share their own ideas.
In Reggio Emilia baby and toddler settings and pre-school centres do not move children from adult to adult but instead children stay with one main carer for at least three years.
Educators in Reggio work in partnership with parents in a comprehensive way recognising the centrality of parents and educator partnerships to the child’s life.
Whilst the educators in Reggio Emilia tells us that it is not possible to completely transplant the philosophies of Reggio to other countries and educational settings it is acknowledged that it is possible to fully implement many of the philosophies. The Italian culture is different to our own and here in the U.K we have a curriculum, the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) for all children which must be followed.
Many settings choose to implement a small number of elements of philosophies of the Reggio Emilia approach. At Shrewsbury Prepatoria we aim to implement the approach as fully as possible across all age ranges.
To find out more about the Reggio Emilia approach please follow this link.