Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Reggio Emilia Approach

"...a hundred worlds to discover
a hundred worlds to invent
a hundred worlds to dream."
Loris Malaguzzi, founder of the Reggio Emilia Method

I first heard of Reggio Emilia in my Play class doing my degree in Education at UNB. I was fascinated at once and seemed inwardly drawn to this philosophy of education. The founder of this approach, Loris Malaguizzi saw a need for preschool education after World War II in Italy. The town in Italy where the school began is called Reggio Emilia and the focus is on primary education. The need arose out of the destruction from the war and the desire of the parents and community to teach their children respect and responsibility through self-guided curriculum.

Exploration, discovery and creativity are key elements to this approach.

A few of the underlying principle of the Reggio Emilia approach are:

  • The child is a collaborator, communicator and plays a central role.
  • The teacher is a partner to the child, a nurturer, a researcher and a guide.
  • Cooperation and community involvement are foundational.
  • The environment is considered the "third teacher" (this includes the physical classroom space).
  • The parent is considered a partner in the educational process.
  • Documentation is of utmost importance, for communication and learning.

Aspects that I love about Reggio Emilia:
  • The emergent curriculum. The curriculum is built upon the child's interests. Topics of interest come up from observing and documenting the children's conversations or from their known interests. The curriculum often involves large projects that start with a certain topic and build and grow to in-depth studies of that topic.
  • The creative aspect. Art in many forms is important, and considered the symbolic representation of children. Art is the child's language.
  • The role of the teacher as collaborator. The teacher works alongside the child not solely as an instructor, but as an facilitator. Collecting data and documenting using writing, recording devices help the teacher learn and assess.

Difficulties with the Reggio Emilia approach:

  • The philosophy is rooted in Italian culture and community and not meant to be duplicated (I don't think) fully in a American/Canadian setting. The philosophy must be adapted to our own community and culture without losing it's main tenants.
  • For the homeschooling family, Reggio Emilia poses difficulty because of the focus on collaboration and groups of children working together. A multi-age homeschool co-op would probably be the best form for implementation.

If you would like to read more on Reggio Emilia, consider these resources:
Official Reggio Emilia website
Reggio Emilia on Wikipedia
Reggio Emilia on the Homeschool Learning Network
Camp Creek Blog (homeschooling with a Reggio approach)
Wee Can Too (a local program inspired by Reggio)


  1. I am a big fan of an Emergent Curriculum approach and actually established a new early learning centre for 2-5 year olds using the philosophy, it was a wonderful experience.

  2. Thanks for the comment! I am happy to have discovered your blog and e-book!