The Reggio Emilia Approach is an approach to early childhood education that emphasises children's natural curiosity and desire to learn. It features a curriculum centred around hands-on projects that allow children to guide their own learning. The approach was developed by psychologist Loris Malaguzzi, in the 1960s after World War II. Malaguzzi started using the Reggio philosophy in Reggio Emilia, a northern Italian town, hence the name!
Malaguzzi believed that children learn
best through hands-on activities and experiences in a social environment. This approach has been adopted by schools worldwide, as it teaches children to be active learners who can communicate their ideas. White Lodge Malaysia is one of the schools that adopts the Reggio Emilia approach. Its overall education philosophy is to encourage your child to take small steps towards learning through experiences.
Here's what to expect if you’re considering enrolling your child in a Reggio-inspired Preschool.
Principles of Reggio Emilia Approach
The five fundamental Reggio Emilia principles guide all activities that are planned in a school. They are:
- Children have the capacity to construct their learning
Children are motivated by their interests and by tapping on these, Reggio Emilia schools help them to learn according to their unique strengths.
- Social interaction through collaboration and community increases learning
The Reggio Emilia approach recognises social interactions with peers and adults as a vital component. Opportunities to building close relationships with their teachers and peer group, as well as community involvement, are highly prioritised. This is the 'hundred languages' approach which encourages children to express themselves.
- A child's environment shapes the way they learn. It must be enriching and supportive
For your child to receive the best early years of education, providing the right environment is important. Thus, Reggio inspired classrooms are also treated as an educational resource as schools with good learning facilities can positively impact a child’s learning. You'll often find plenty of natural light and indoor plants for a stimulating classroom environment!
- Adults are partners and nurturers, guiding children to explore their interests
The Reggio Emillia approach embraces teaching led by the child's interests. This means teachers in school observe children and guide their learning processes. It is not a dictated list of things to do, rather teachers are present to support the child’s exploration. This also applies to parents' participation.
- A child’s learning process needs documentation
Be it a drawing, a thoughtful poem or a photograph, your child will present their learning in many ways through different mediums. The Reggio approach is to document how children express themselves creatively as a record of their learning development.
Benefits of Reggio Emilia Approach
When you enrol your child into a Reggio inspired school, your child will benefit from a fruitful learning experience guided by his or her teacher. These benefits include:
- Developing real-life problem-solving skills
It is only through practical experience that children can learn various life skills and lessons. Through in-depth projects and peer learning with others, the curriculum gives your child the freedom to explore concepts in different subjects. It also provides them with a chance to think of various ideas and apply solutions to the problem.
- Authentic engagement to develop social skills
Teachers in a Reggio-inspired school facilitate learning by listening to children's ideas and asking probing questions, cultivating creativity and problem-solving skills. Exploring with an authentic experience, stimulating materials, hands-on learning, and integrating different disciplines all creates opportunities for a child to find their interests. It also fosters social development. Through project work and guided experiences, they learn to work with their friends and teachers.
- Self-expression is encouraged
The Reggio Emilia philosophy, as the guiding principles suggest, is about self-expression. Young children are curious, so the best way is to let them play an active role in their learning. Through exploring, observing and learning, your child understands and becomes more aware of their own thoughts. It's also about letting them share their ideas with an audience. Whether it's through dancing, singing, sculpture or painting, a Reggio-inspired school can motivate children to further explore and share their views of the world.
Reggio Emilia-inspired Activity Ideas
Here are 7 activities that you can try to engage your child in using the Reggio Emilia approach at home. You might also find several of these activities in a school with its curriculum based on the Reggio Emilia philosophy!
- Exploring the world through art
One of the activities you can try at home is to engage your child in mural painting or a collage of a group of people and add a caption to it. Your child may include the title of a book you are reading or the title of your favourite movie.
- Making music with our bodies and voices
You can encourage self-expression with "If I could be...", a song that lets children share ideas about what type of animal they may be, ways to describe the animal, and the movements to represent the animal. Your child can dance along, clap or stomp their feet, and adapt to the song to fit the animal they represent!
- Creating stories that reflect our lives and cultures
Stories are a great way to encourage children to explore their interests. It's also a wonderful platform to help your child bond with others in the community. If you are at home, try creating your own story with original poems, drawings and photos. You can even get your child to interview an older person to include their words in the story!
- Learning through play, using materials from around us
A Reggio Emilia classroom is full of materials without specific, defined purposes. In school or at home, inviting and inspiring spaces are set to explore the use of various materials, such as art materials and instruments that should be neatly laid out. Other stimulating materials made out of various textures should also be available, such as ribbons or pom poms. The idea is to let children find what interests them and use the available materials to create art or music. Their imagination is boundless!
- Engaging in scientific inquiry, led by children's questions
Exploring nature through your child's eyes is one way of engaging in scientific inquiry. As your child watches the natural world outside, they will naturally ask questions. Whether it's leaves falling, birds building nests, or various rocks and seeds on the ground, allow them to develop curiosity and ask questions. Through those questions, you encourage their spirit of wonderment and spark the joy of learning!
- Using dramatic play to create new worlds and tell stories
Drama is a perfect way for your child to develop communication skills. It also helps them to use their senses, exercise their imagination and develop confidence. In a Reggio-inspired school, there will be plenty of opportunities for your child to role-play. Children can play different characters and explore a range of emotions. This is often a unique experience for children in an international learning environment. The teacher may also get the entire class to set a stage together. Try it at home!
- Using language as a starting point for learning to communicate
Some Reggio schools teach different languages apart from English, and that's a brilliant way to improve your child's language and literacy. Learning Mandarin, for instance, exposes children to a whole other culture. Through music, storytelling, and other fun activities, they develop their communication skills. Being bilingual also helps with creativity and critical thinking!
White Lodge Malaysia, International Preschool and Childcare in Kuala Lumpur, Campuses in Bangsar South and Desa Parkcity
Parents, if you are intrigued by the Reggio Emilia approach, learn more about our curriculum here. White Lodge Malaysia, an international preschool and childcare in Kuala Lumpur, with campuses in Bangsar South and Desa Parkcity has incorporated the Reggio approach into their curriculum. Book a tour to find out more!