Post–World War II saw the advent of the Reggio Emilia approach in preschools and primary education. The system was introduced by an eminent psychologist Loris Malaguzzi along with parents in the town of Reggio Emilia in Italy. The premise of the idea was that young learners have an innate “100 languages” endowed in them through which they are able to express their ideas and thoughts. The new way of learning was child-centric and Malaguzzi believed that children form a large part of their personality in early childhood.
The Reggio Emilia approach is inspiring and innovative which lays the focus on the child as being resilient, strong and capable and filled with inborn knowledge and curiosity to learn how to channelize their capabilities. This was a revolutionary approach which divulged that children are more than capable of understanding the world around them and finding their own place within it.
Fundamental principles of the Reggio Emilia approach:
The main aim of the Reggio Emilia approach is to enable and empower children to learn to utilize their “100 languages” like sculpting, painting, drama and others in daily life to form a strong base.
- Malaguzzi believed that preschoolers are able to construct their own learning structures and patterns. They are driven by the need to understand and explore their natural surroundings.
- The child’s interaction with others helps him or her to create an understanding of their own self and determine their place in the outside world in the child’s mind through interpersonal interactions and activity.
- Teamwork is considered to be the basic premise of the system. There was a strong focus on group work and social collaboration. Each child is an equal participant and their questions and thought processes are placed in high regard.
- The adult is not considered as a ‘provider of knowledge’. The onus is on the child to seek knowledge through his or her individual thoughts and curiosity.
- Language is of great significance in the system as communication is the process that is believed to facilitate learning and discovery. Experiences are shared and playing with rhythms and sounds is the way forward to complete learning.
- Learning is thought to be a continuous and collaborative process which is highlighted by the quest for knowledge through a process of discovery and not formal teaching. The adult is merely a mentor or guide.
- Emphasis on documenting and recording the child’s thoughts and communication through photographs, transcripts, drawings or sculptures. They all provide a window to gauge the child’s learning process and curve. Hands-on learning through discovery was the base on which sensory and “language’ learning grew.
The approach used in the modern context
The best preschools and best playschools with high-quality preschool development programs are adopting the Reggio Emilia culture with open arms. Learning that evolves from play and activity is widely accepted as a favorable pedagogy. Children are allowed to express their thoughts and ask questions. Fostering early childhood education or the growth of learning with the adult as a guide not just with formal teaching is fast becoming commonplace in the industry. The child-centric curriculum and learning structure finds an echo in the modern preschool development programs too! This makes the modern preschool teaching highly compatible with the Reggio Emilia method.