You may have heard the term ‘Reggio Emilia’, which is actually a city in northern Italy, yet it is also the name of an early learning concept that was devised by a teacher who lived in the city just after WWII. Some of the parents helped him to create an educational system that is now used worldwide called the Reggio Emilia approach.
Core Principles of Reggio Emilia Approach
There are many schools around the world, including Raintree in Bangkok, that base their curriculum and delivery on the Reggio Emilia approach, and here are the core concepts:
- Children must have some form of control over what they learn – This means the curriculum is based on the students’ interests, thus ensuring a high level of interest.
- Children should learn through sight, sound, touch, listening and observation.
- Children should be allowed to develop relationships with people are items they come into contact with.
- Children should have many ways in which they can express themselves.
The Learning Environment
A school that follows the Reggio Emilia approach would use natural materials to decorate the school, with pastel coloured cotton drapes adorning the classrooms and timber is widely used in the decoration, plus there would be a lot of student work on the walls, which is a positive reminder to the children of their abilities.
Parental & Community Involvement
The Reggio Emilia concept states that all parties; including parents and members of the local community, should play an active role in school activities, with parents encouraged to become involved in classroom projects by telling the children about their professions. It is this strong bond between the school and the community that sets the school apart from others, as some schools prefer to deal with the education without the interference of outside parties. The school that follows this concept believes that if the parents fully understand how learning best occurs, they can reinforce learning at home and help the students to acquire the skills necessary for self-learning.
The Role of the Teacher
While a traditional teacher would instruct the children, this is not the role of a Reggio Emilia teacher, who would see themselves as facilitators and learners rather than teachers. A classic example would be when the students are planning a project, rather than simply telling the students what they will need, the teacher will guide the children through asking questions, thus allowing them to come to their own conclusions rather than simply being taught.
The same teacher would remain with the students for several years, which enables them to really get to know each individual child and therefore be better equipped to help them reach their fullest potential. One of the main goals is the instil a lifelong love of learning in their students, something that will remain with them throughout their lives, and as the children are actively engaged, rather than taking a passive role, they develop critical thinking and organisational skills that will serve then well in later years.
If you send your child to a school that adopts the Reggio Emilia concept of learning, you can rest assured that they will develop to their fullest potential and also love learning in all forms.