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The Reggio Emilia Approach

One of Several Preschool Options

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Happy Child

Happy Child

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When parents start to explore early education options for their toddlers, they are confronted with a range of choices. Montessori has over 8,000 schools in the U.S. It is very popular with parents who want a child-centered approach to education. Waldorf schools occupy a much smaller niche in the early education world with just under 150 schools in North America. Then you have Reggio Emilia which is found in less than 20 American schools. Why is Reggio Emilia even worth consideration as a preschool option? Simply because it provides such a happy, collaborative solution to educating your preschool-age child.

Origins
Like Montessori, Reggio Emilia began in Italy. This gentle, intuitive approach to educating preschoolers was the brainchild of Loris Malaguzzi (1920-1994). Malguzzi was a young teacher who had heard about a school the villagers of Villa Cella had built out of the ruins of their war-ravaged community close to Reggio Emilia. Malaguzzi and members of the community drew on many philosophies and educational theories as they developed the approach which became known as Reggio Emilia.

Reggio in North America
Like Montessori, Reggio Emilia began as a public education system of educating children. In North America the Reggio approach, just as with Montessori, is almost exclusively found in private schools. The North American Reggio Emilia Alliance supports schools and parents interested in Reggio Emilia. The NAREA has a traveling exhibit, The Hundred Languages of Children, which promotes the Reggio Emilia approach.

Features of Reggio Emilia
The essence of the Reggio Emilia approach - it is not a method - is that the teacher and other adults learn from the children. Teachers in Reggio learning environments always observe and respond to what children are doing. They believe that children are not empty vessels which must be filled with data and information. They believe that children from birth are full of potential and possibilities and that it is the adults' responsibility to develop that potential. The Reggio Emilia approach is rooted in an unwavering belief in the child by all adults in the community. As a result the community bonds and involvement in the education of young children are exceptionally strong. Everybody gets in on the process of educating and nurturing the little ones.

Some of the essential features of the Reggio Emilia approach are as follows:

  • Children are at the center of the educational process.
  • Children learn by using all their senses.
  • Teachers observe and learn from the children as facilitators and collaborators.
  • Parents are expected to collaborate and be involved in the day to day activities.
  • The environment is an important teaching component.
Schools Using the Reggio Emilia Approach
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