The Reggio Emilia project approach states that children are natural scholars who are eager to learn. It stresses the importance of group projects which allow children to work together and challenges them to work together to develop socially, emotionally and intellectually. They emphasize work over play. Raising children as creative thinkers and self motivated explorers.
Loris Malaguzzi was an early childhood educator who founded the educational philosophy known as the Reggio Emilia Approach. He was instrumental in the creation of a network of municipal preschools and infant-toddler centers in the Italian town of Reggio Emilia.
The Reggio method views young children as individuals who are curious about their world, “each child has 100 languages” and tries to develop them with innovation, art, music, dance, writing, talking, singing, and science. Children are considered to be “knowledge bearers”, so they are encouraged to share their thoughts and ideas about everything they could meet or do during the day. At the heart of this system is the powerful image of the child. Reggio educators do not see children as empty vessels that require filling with facts. Rather they see children as full of potential, competent and capable of directing their interests and building their own theories.
The child is viewed as being an active constructor of knowledge, rather than being seen as the target of instruction. Children are seen as having an active role as an apprentice. The teacher’s main role is to work alongside the children, to provoke ideas, problem solving, and resolve conflicts.
Four major principles of the Reggio Emilia Approach:
Emergent Curriculum - A classroom’s curriculum stems from the particular interests of children. Curriculum topics are derived from talking with children and their families, as well as from things that are known to be interesting to children.
In-Depth Projects - These projects are thorough studies of concepts and ideas based on the information gathered about a child’s interests. Projects are often introduced to children as adventures, and can last anywhere from a week or two to the entire school year.
Representational Development - This principal takes into account Howard Gardner’s concept of multiple intelligences. The Reggio Emilia approach calls for the presentation of new ideas and concepts in multiple forms, such as print, art, drama, music, puppetry, and so on.
Collaboration - The idea of collaboration is seen as necessary to further a child’s cognitive development. There is a close interaction between teachers, parents, and children. Children are viewed as collaborators and work best when included in a community as opposed to working independently. Therefore, emphasis is placed on working in small groups, which is based on the idea that we form ourselves through interaction with peers, adults, and the world around us.