The Reggio Emilia Approach to Education

Developed by pedagogist Loris Malaguzzi after WWII, the reggio emilia approach is a child-centered education philosophy. This educational method takes into account many different aspects of learning, such as the environment as a third teacher, documentation or the image of the child.

Parents are a big part of this learning philosophy and are seen as advocates and partners in their children’s education. This is reflected in their involvement within classrooms and school-wide curriculum development.

1. Children are the center of learning

In a Reggio-inspired classroom, teachers collaborate with children to help them discover their strengths. This allows them to tailor their curriculum to better serve each student’s interests.

Teachers also document students’ experiences using photos, videos, audio recordings, and work portfolios. These documentation methods are meant to help students look back on their growth and build self-esteem.

Children are believed to be endowed with “a hundred languages” that they can use to express themselves and learn about their world. The curriculum is based on their interests and their questions and curiosity.

2. The environment is the third teacher

Under the Reggio Emilia approach, teachers consider the environment as a third teacher. They carefully curate the space with learning provocations that inspire students to wonder, investigate, learn, represent and create.

Documentation is an important part of the pedagogy, including photos, transcripts, audio tapes, and films. It is used to help children understand their own learning and build self-esteem.

The philosophy also believes that every child is endowed with “a hundred languages” to express their ideas. Teachers search for underlying themes or ideas in the children’s work and turn these into in-depth group projects.

3. The teacher is a co-learner

Teachers are seen as co-learners under the Reggio Emilia approach. They take their lead from children, often deciding on projects and materials based on what children show interest in.

Teachers also document their students’ growth and exploration extensively. This can be done through photos, informal notes, work portfolios or recorded dictations.

Ultimately, the curriculum is a mashup of the students’ interests, their families’ communication and the close observations and notes the teachers make on their students. This collaborative process is referred to as the Emergent Curriculum.

4. The teacher is a researcher

Under the Reggio Emilia approach, teachers are viewed as researchers working alongside children to promote their learning. Teachers observe students carefully, document their work, and look for ways to help them further explore their interests.

To do this, teachers provide a variety of different materials for students to interact with. They also encourage student collaboration and team-thinking. This helps to foster creativity and allows children to express themselves in multiple ways. Art and drama are also big aspects of this educational philosophy.

5. The teacher is a collaborator

Teachers under the Reggio Emilia approach are expected to guide children through experiences, open-ended discovery and problem solving. They observe and listen to children while questioning and waiting for opportunities that encourage further exploration of children’s interests.

Children are encouraged to demonstrate their ideas through a variety of media. This includes art, clay, wire, and even drama. Teachers document these ideas as they happen.

It’s important for teachers to collaborate with parents. They should work together to support children’s learning, sharing information and resources.

6. The teacher is a partner in education

The Reggio Emilia approach believes that children are naturally equipped with the potential to learn and have an unlimited capacity to make connections. Teachers should encourage thoughtful exploration and questioning.

Research supports pedagogical documentation—which includes the use of video recordings to document students’ learning and development—as well as open-ended questions.

A school inspired by the Reggio Emilia philosophy emphasizes a collaborative environment where teachers work with small and large groups of children to solve problems using dialogue, comparisons and negotiations. This is known as the emergent curriculum.

7. The teacher is an advocate for children

Under the Reggio Emilia philosophy, teachers are expected to be the ones to guide children through experiences and open-ended discovery. This requires a lot of listening, observation, and documentation.

The curriculum is based on the students’ innate interests. Teachers will create projects to encourage this interest and document their progress in a portfolio.

They also encourage collaboration through dialogue, comparisons and negotiations. It is important for the children to build a sense of trust with their peers.

8. The teacher is a friend

Under the Reggio Emilia approach, teachers and children collaborate with each other. This is a key component of the philosophy. Teachers will often invite parents into their classrooms to work alongside their children.

Parents are seen as each child’s first teacher under the philosophy and are a vital part of the learning process. Teachers will also respect parents as advocates for their children.

At White Lodge Malaysia, our schools in Bangsar South and Desa Parkcity follow the Reggio Emilia approach! Book a tour today to see how we encourage your child to explore and learn.

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