History of Reggio Emilia
The Reggio Emilia approach to learning was developed by Loris Malaguzzi in a northern Italy city of the same name (Reggio Emilia). This first Reggio Emilia school was co-created by parents in the community and was founded on the principles of community, responsibility, and respect through a supportive and enriching environment. Currently, schools integrating a Reggio approach still follow these same basic principles. At the core, the Reggio Emilia method offers young people more power than most other educational methods. Reggio advocates believe that children are powerful people, just like adults, born with the desire and ability to construct their own knowledge base as they grow. Respect is key as Reggio educators believe children have the right to interact, communicate, make decisions, follow their own path and experience interest-led learning.
Reggio Emilia is extremely focused on the connecting relationships between children, teachers, parents, school and home. This education method attempts to create an environment in which everyone interacts and works together. An exchange of ideas between parents, teachers and children is essential to this method and parents tend to be active in Reggio schools, attending meetings, volunteering and more. This high level of connecting everyone involved is based on Loris’s vision of an, “Education based on relationships.”
How Reggio Emilia Students Learn
Reggio students are allowed to follow their own interests, rather than a pre-set curriculum, however this is not, according to Reggio advocates, “willy-nilly” learning. There’s a high amount of adult involvement in order to support and help direct students. Overall, though Reggio implies that children must have control of their learning. Some key learning methods for Reggio students include the following:
- Children learn through hands on experiences using all of their senses.
- Students participate in project based learning.
- Children are encouraged to foster relationships with other children for both play and learning.
- Students are presented with multiple forms of concepts. For example, a concept such as the ocean may be represented in print, art, construction, drama, music, puppetry and shadow play to add to students’ understanding of multiple experiences.
- Reggio instructors help youth document and display their projects which the Reggio method sees as necessary for children in order to allow them to express, revisit, and construct and reconstruct their feelings, ideas and understandings.
- Adults encourage Reggio learning by providing the proper supports. For example, in a class where kids are interested in woodworking, a teacher may introduce wood, hammers, nails and so fourth while using the experience to help reinforce “conventional” topics like math skills, problem-solving, and literacy.
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