Reggio Emilia Teaching Method

ReggioEmilia Teaching Method



Outline 2

Introduction 2

Reggio Curriculum 3

The Reggio Emilia Philosophy 4

Emergent curriculum 4

Project work 4

Representational Development 4

Collaboration 4

Teachers as Researchers 4

Documentation 5

Environment 5

The hundred languages of children 6

An overview of the teacher’s role at Reggio Emilia 6

Cultural differences that aids the success of Reggio Emilio education system 6

Different Media, Different Language 7

Why the Reggio Emilia Academic Approach 7

Conclusion 7

References 8


Reggio Emilia a Northern Italian city has a firm establishmentglobally it is highly reputable for forward thinking and high levelof excellence in the approach it follows for early childhoodlearning. American and Scandinavian scholars and school basedinstructors got to appreciate the importance of these philosophies ineducation for quite some time. Early childhood education around theworld continues to be deeply inspired and enlightened by that we arelearning from the primary school of Reggio Emilia. The text helps inunderstanding history, current situations, future trajectory, thevision and challenges for educator following the Reggio Emiliacurriculum method, by showing how the teachers and programs translatetheories of learning and educating young children into practice.


TheReggio approach derives its name from its origin place, ReggioEmilia, which is a city in Emilia Romagna in Northern Italy. Justafter the world II, Loris Malaguzzi, a young teacher by then and thefounder of the system, joined forces with the parents in ReggioEmilia to provide educational services for the young kids in thelocality (Edwards, 2002). The young teacher was inspired to see womenreturn to their work especially now that the world war was over,since then it has been over 50 years and the unique education systemhas developed to catch the attention of early childhood educatorsworldwide. The approach is complex since in pulls together differentfundamental aspects of working such as the works of Dewey, Piaget,and Vygotsky to mention but a few. The system thus does lead itselfplaying important roles such collaborations among the teachers,children, and the parents, the teachers and parents, development andconstruction of knowledge roles, roles of contributing to sociallearning and the independence of individuals, and applying culture inunderstanding this independence.

Whatdrives the Reggio system is their unique way of looking at thechildren they educate. The children here are not viewed to blankobjects that require filling using details but rather they areviewed as full potential, component that is very much capable ofbuilding their own theories. Therefore, children have a right torecognize aspects of individual, their legal, associated civilrights, and societal rights as sources and constructors of their ownexperience. With these, children are viewed to be active organizersof their identity, abilities, and autonomy, through the interactionsthese kids undergo with their peers, adults in their environment,ideas, with objects, and with real events in their everyday life.Therefore, in a typical Reggio approach, the teacher reflects on theexperience of the children being mindful to observe the little thingsto aid learning, as we shall see in this paper (Hewett,2001).

TheCurrent Situation at Reggio

Reggiohas an education system that is based on interrelations, thus,communicating a network of communication between the teachers, thechildren, and their parents. The system sees to it that the three,that is, the teacher, parent, and student collaborate in theconstruction of knowledge. Collaboration is geared towards a commonpurpose, which to build a culture that is to respect the childhood asa time to explore, be creative, and joyful. According the system, itis the right of the parent to have active participation and withvoluntary adherence to basic principles that are influential thedevelopment care given towards their kids entrusted to the educationsystem. This proves the important role of the parents and they arevalued as players in the development of their children, thus, parentshave an important place in the curriculum. The participation ofparents opens up a communication network allowing for fuller and amore receptacle knowledge, as well as a more effective shared searchfor the best educational method for the kids (New, 2003).

TheReggio teacher is quite, this is so because offering to be part ofthe knowledge construction process, by releasing the traditional roleof the teacher and opening the doors to new possible (Tobin, 2005).The teacher utilizes the child’s own theories, promotingdisequilibrium, and aids the child’s thinking to facilitate newlearning. The teacher allows the child to ask their own question andgenerate and test their own hypothesis, allow the children to exploreand generate many possibilities, both affirming and contradictory,welcoming contradictions as a venue for exploring, discussing, and adebate platform. The teacher allow use of symbolic languages torepresent thoughts and hypothesis, give a platform for communicateindividual ideas to others, and act as a means to revisit conceptsand ideas, thoughts and theories to aid in constructing of newmeanings (Valentine,2006).


Thecurriculum at Reggio Emilia applies the emergent approach. Theeducators in the system are mandated to develop general goals andpredict the differences responses from the children in activities andprojects so that they can prepare the learning environment byavailing the learning materials. At this point, the children takeover and the curriculum emerges. Therefore, the huge percent of thecurriculum at Reggio Emilia is in the form of projects, and usuallythese projects originate from either the teachers or the children.Sometimes, projects results from problems, for instance, a childcomes to school in a pair of new shoes prompting other to wonder fromwhere shoes originate based on manufacturing. Thus, a project isdeveloped to investigate materials that make shoes. Therefore, theprojects at Reggio Emilia are an intense construction of knowledge,in form of studies conducted by children and facilitated in form ofguidance by the adults (New, 2003).

TheReggio Emilia Philosophy

TheReggio Emilia approach to education started as an exemplary model ofearly education. The approach seeks to enhance a child’s own powerof thinking through a synthesis of all expressive, communicative andcognitive languages. The system is designed for early childhoodeducation designed for all children right from birth all the way toage 6. The program’s principles have been recognized as the best inthe world and they are discussed below.


Thisis a curriculum building upon the interest of the children, wherebythe topic of study are captured from what children talk about,through various community and family events, as well as from knowninterest by these children. Team planning is an essential part of howthe system works, as teachers work collaboratively to creatematerials for projects to be used in learning, preparing the neededmaterials, ensuring possible support from both the community and theparents (Valentine,2006).


Projects,also emergent are in-depth studies of concept, ideas, and intereststhat rise from the children (Valentine,2006).These projects are considered as an adventure for the kids and theyeven go for a week or even more to last throughout the entire schoolyear. Throughout the project teachers aid the kids in makingdecisions about the direction of the study, giving directions on theway the group will study the appointed topic, deciding on the mediumthat will be demonstrate and showcase the topic, and selection ofmaterials to be utilized.

Representationof Development

Inline with Howard Gardner’s concept of education for numerousintelligences, the Reggio Emilia concept calls for an integration ofthe graphic arts as a tool for cognitive, linguistic, and socialdevelopment. Thus, the system ensures presentation of concepts inmultiple forms, that is, as print, art and creativity in art,construction projects, different forms of drama and music, and shadowplay, is all viewed as essential I the development of the child’slearning (Valentine,2006).


Theeducation system considers the use of groups both large and small asa valuable aspect of the system for advancing the cognitive abilitiesof the children. The children in this educational system areencouraged to speak out, critique, compare, negotiate, andhypothesize problems solving through group work. The Reggio Emiliaapproach does not leave out any approach thus it gives the childrenan access to different tools and media to express themselves. Inaddition, the established network of collaboration between the kidshome, school, and communities all aid in support of the learningprocess for the kids (Katz, 1998).

Teachersas Researchers

Teacherat the Reggio Emilia system of education carry a complex role.Teachers work as co-teachers with their first role being to work aslearners alongside the children (Fraser and Gestwicki, 2002). Thus,the teacher is a teacher and a researcher, and a resource and guideto the children as they he or she lend expertise to the children. Asa teacher and a researcher, educators carefully listen, observe, andrecord children’s work and the growth of community in theirclassroom and they are mandated to provoke and construct thinking andpeer collaborations. Therefore, as a teacher one is committed toreflect upon their own teaching and learning as they deliver to thekids. The Reggio system has a space in class that is utilized forstudents’ practical works, where they use clay, wires, mirrors,beautiful papers, paints and drawing material among other availableresources. The studio teacher looks at these materials as means orcommunication or a language that the kids use to communicate andexpress different kinds of knowledge even before they are able tospeak. With the help of the art work and other activities in thisclassroom studio, the teacher is able to reflect and the child’slearning.


Justlike in the portfolio approach, the documentation of children work inprogress plays an important role as a tool in the learning processfor the children, and their aiding parties that are the parents andthe teachers. The documentation process of the Reggio Emilia systeminvolves capturing of the children’s work, pictures of childrenengaged in learning experiences, recording their words as theydiscuss their experiences the children interpretation of experiencesare all displayed as part of the system documentation. Thesedocumentation records are then utilized as assessments for learningand points of advocating learning (Edwards, 2002 ).

Bymeans of documentation, interesting and advance points are recordedand stored of the teaching profession growth. This is the process bywhich teacher will generate hypotheses and an interpretation ofdifferent theories, which are used in the modification of initial andother general theories. Thus, documentation makes it possible andeasy to create knowledge for teachers, researches, and scholars inthe field of child education and development. The teacher as animport skill of observation as the first step in data collection usedin the development of academic documentations capturing the story ofchildren, showcasing their classroom experiences in the learningenvironments aiding the development of the teachers understanding,making documentation an important tool in teacher research, teacherreflection, assessment tool for collaborations, and as a tool used indecision making (Soler and Miller, 2003).


Accordingto Hewett (2001), under the Reggio Emilia system of learning, greatattention is impelled towards the look and feeling of the classroom.The educations system considers environment to be the third teacher,thus, teachers ensures spaces are well organized to cover small andlarge group projects and small intimate spaces for one to threechildren. The classroom environment is a perfect point of display ofall the previous works documented of the children in the learningprocess. In addition, the common space available for all the childrenincludes venues for staging dramatic plays and worktables enablingstudents from different classrooms to come together.

Thehundred languages of children

Thisis the most well known aspect of the Reggio Emilia approach toeducation of children. There is a belief that children will usedifferent ways in showing their understanding and expressing theirthoughts and creativity. Thus, a hundred different ways of thinking,discovering, and those associated with learning. The system sees toit that drawing and scriptures, dancing and movement, painting andpretend play, modeling music, all this are part of the hundred oflanguages to be valued and natured. These languages, which are alsoways of learning, are also part of the child, and thus, learning andplay cannot be separated, with that the Reggio Emilia approachemphasizes the use of different languages allowing the children touse their senses (Rinaldi,2006).

Anoverview of the teacher’s role at Reggio Emilia

Theteacher at Reggio Emilia has the following roles, to co-explore thelearning environment together with the children, to aid in theprovocation of ideas, facilitate problem solving and conflictresolutions among the children. Teachers take ideas from thechildren, examines them and returns the for further exploration, theteacher will also organize the classroom and materials to beaccessible and interesting to children, in addition, the aid thechildren use the materials to come up with useful thoughts anddecisions (Edwards,1993).

Teachersare mandated to document children progress using different mediaforms such as videotapes, tape recordings, photos, and portfolios(Tobin,2005).Teachers also help students establish a connection between learningand experiences, helping the children express their knowledge throughprojects, hold dialogues about the projects with other stakeholderswhich include parents and other teachers. Lastly, teachers aremandated to foster a connection between home, school, and thecommunity.

Culturaldifferences that aids the success of Reggio Emilio education system

Theculture in Italy and especially in Reggio Emilia, there is a strongsense of responsibility for the children expressed at the individual,local, and state level. There is a belief in the importance ofchildren and families, which is not an expression of politicalsentimentalities, but rather as evidence through a social policiesand informal communities and social supports for parents and youngchildren (Tobin, 2005).

However,in contrast to the American status quo, Italy has changeddramatically over the last half a century, and Reggio Emiliarepresents what is best about the change. The common Italian valuesin combination with Reggio Emilia’s particular history ofcollaboration and solidarity, has enhanced immeasurably by the personand vision of Malaguzzi, who was in articulation of a broader view ofchildren’s social, intellectual, creative competences than it wasever imagined. This gave birth to today’s world wide renownedReggio Emilia school (Valentine2006).

DifferentMedia, Different Language

Accordingto research and the Reggio Emilia system of education, children learnmore deeply where they are offered an opportunity to represent thesame concept in different media. Thus, different representation mediaare used in the Reggio Emilia schools in deepening the childrenunderstanding. Among the media used include clay sculptures, markers,paper constructions, and wooden sculptures. Typically, small groupsof children will work together in teams, with each child making adifferent version of their idea in different media. For instance, ina school in Reggio Emilia, discuss the observations outside theirbackyard, drew whatever they could remember, went ahead to constructwire and paper models of the environment observable figures such asbirds, spiders, animals living in the field, and even noise machinesthat they may have observed outside. In a different group projectthemed amusement park for birds, the group o student involved in thefield event discussed what they saw, drew them, and constructedmodels in clay, paper and wire (Edwards,1993).

Whythe Reggio Emilia Academic Approach

Thebenefits of this approach include a huge exposure to, and thedevelopment of a curriculum covering different areas, where a childcan explore with independence and guidance (New, 2003). Thus,creating a conducive academic environment where children can growboth physically and mentally. In addition, the Reggio Emilia benefitsinclude a child-centered or child driven environment that is furtherenriched by children interests. This creates and environment thatfosters development. Moreover, the underlying philosophy of theschool, its implementation and personality of the staff has to beanalyzed in person by the parents in order to assess the flexibilityto meet the needs of the particular child.

Thesystem has the advantage of presenting the parents and teachers withassessment and observable evidence of progress in the learning of thekids. This is enabled by documentation in the system. In addition,the documentation of daily activities and documentation of ongoingprojects gives meaning and identity for all the children, and thisgives insight to the teachers on the thoughts of the children. Theprogram has the advantage of having the teacher as a closefacilitator to children learning and the teacher can revisit theexercises with children (Valentine,2006).


Inconclusion, Reggio Emilia utilizes an emergent curriculum, which iscreated in line with the students’ interests, rather than canedcurriculum where children are taught year after year without anychange being initiated. Thus, the Reggio approach developed in Italyreflects the students’ interests which are more of what is going inthe environment helping the students to be more resilient andcreative. In addition, the learning of students is made visible tothe different collaborators that are the teachers and parents throughregular documentation on the learning build on the interest of thechild and guided by an adult.


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Fraser,S., &amp Gestwicki, C. (2002). Authenticchildhood: Exploring Reggio Emilia in the classroom.Cengage Learning.

Hewett,V. M. (2001). Examining the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhoodeducation. EarlyChildhood Education Journal,29(2),95-100.

Katz,L. (1998). What can we learn from Reggio Emilia. Thehundred languages of children: The Reggio Emilia approach–Advancedreflections,27-45.

New,R. S. (2003). Reggio Emilia: New Ways To Think About Schooling.Educational Leadership,60(7),34-38.

Rinaldi,C. (2006). Indialogue with Reggio Emilia: Listening, researching and learning. Psychology Press.

Soler,J., &amp Miller, L. (2003). The Struggle for Early ChildhoodCurricula: A comparison of the English Foundation Stage Curriculum,Te Wha¨ riki and Reggio Emilia. International Journal of Early Years Education,11(1),57-68.

Tobin,J. (2005). Quality in early childhood education: An anthropologist`sperspective. Early Education and Development,16(4),421-434.

Valentine,M. (2006). TheReggio Emilia approach to early years education.Dundee: Learning and Teaching Scotland.