At Explorers Early Learning, the Reggio Emilia approach to early learning is deeply embedded in our practices. We incorporate the philosophy’s beliefs and understandings of children and learning into our values and daily practice. To understand more about this philosophy and how we apply it, here’s a quick introduction.
The history of Reggio Emilia
The Reggio Emilia philosophy was started by parents in Reggio Emilia, Italy, after World War II, as they believed that a more holistic approach to teaching their children was required. The program they developed emphasised respect, responsibility and community involvement.
What is the Reggio Emilia philosophy?
The philosophy is built on the innate curiosity of children and helps to assist them with understanding their world and who they are in it.
To understand Reggio Emilia better, it’s important to know the four core principles of the philosophy:
- Children are free to direct what they learn.
- Children engage with their senses to help them learn and fully process something.
- Children are encouraged to interact with other children and explore the world through material items and relationships.
- Children are encouraged to always express themselves and be given infinite means and opportunities to do so.
A child’s point of view is completely respected and the student is encouraged to follow their own educational path. The philosophy believes that a child’s driving sense of curiosity, along with their inherent potential, will foster an interest in learning, allowing them to learn and succeed long-term. It is that curiosity and potential that ultimately sets the path and the direction that all learning will follow.
What to expect at Explorers Early Learning
First, it is important to understand that the Reggio Emilia philosophy is simply that – a philosophy. The philosophy simply guides the decisions of educators in how they approach education.
In applying the Reggio Emilia Philosophy, children are allowed to explore and discover in a supportive and rich environment, where the curriculum is created around the children’s unique interests. This belief has a practical impact, creating a co-learning environment where educators learn with the children and work in a lateral relationship as opposed to a hierarchical one. That partnership is also intended to include the parents and community of each child.
A major focus of the Reggio Emilia philosophy is that students study in a comfortable environment that makes them feel at home. Classrooms are also aesthetically pleasing and have plenty of natural light. At Explorers, children have the benefit of learning within a safe indoor and outdoor environment that fosters their well-being and development, while focussing on sustainable practices that are embedded within our programs.
When it comes to actual learning, a variety of materials and vehicles are used, including clay, paint, dramatic play, among others. Individual and class projects are often undertaken and last for weeks, and sometimes even months. These projects allow students to learn many different aspects of their chosen topic of learning.
The benefits of the Reggio Emilia approach
Children are active participants in creating learning opportunities and are encouraged to be ‘researchers’. Most of the educational experiences take the form of projects, where children have opportunities to actively participate, explore and question things. Children are frequently challenged with numeric problem-solving exercises to drive learning around numbers and basic counting. There is also a very strong emphasis on the social development of children as part of the community and their relationships with other children, their families and educators.
The Reggio approach starts from the premise that children use different ways to express their creativity, understanding and thoughts. This perspective has been endorsed by many artists, who state that these different ways of thinking, exploring and learning are expressed through drawing, sculpting, music, dance and movement, painting and drama.
3. Problem solving techniques
Children are given learning projects that provide extensive research opportunities, including real-life problem solving among peers, and opportunities for creative thinking and exploration. The children are placed in small groups for the projects that they work on and are allowed to question the topic of interest. Educators observe the project groups and then introduce materials, questions and opportunities that provoke children to further explain the topic.
The Reggio Emilia Philosophy has substantial benefits for our Little Explorers as they journey through their early learning years and become confident and ready to transition to more formal school years. If you would welcome an early learning centre where the child is valued as capable of steering and directing their learning process, then the Reggio Emilia approach at Explorers Early Learning is worth considering.