What is the Reggio Emilia Approach?
Contributed by Amanda Prade
1. Emergent Curriculum: builds from the natural curiosities of children. Sometimes it will emerge from the children’s interests or may also be sparked by the teacher strategically putting out a provocation to see how the children respond or by posing inquiry-based questions that deepen learning and understanding. Teachers may also create a curiosity by reading rich literature, taking advantage of real life experiences outside and within the community, and by deeply listening and responding to the thoughts and ideas of children. Teachers also support the ongoing development of projects which are by nature cross-curricular and thereby support the intellectual, emotional/social, physical, artistic and aesthetic development of children. They also observe students carefully and act responsively to develop engaging and rich learning experiences that are relevant to the children.
2. Project Work: in-depth studies that develop out of children’s ideas, questions, and interests. Projects may last for short or extended periods of time and may involve individuals, small groups or the whole class. With teacher support children choose what materials to use to support their explorations and how to research, share and re-represent their learnings. Projects involve collaboration which supports the development of cognitive, communication and social skills. Students are also encouraged to negotiate, discuss, critique, compare and problem solve during project work, all important aspects of the child’s ability to self-regulate behaviour.
3. Representational Development: The arts play a key role in Reggio influenced practice and are integrated into daily activities to maximize children’s development. Children will regularly spend time in the art centre or atelier and frequently participate in dance, drama, music, movement instruction and play; all part of the hundred languages of children.
4. The Role of the Environment: The environment is seen as the third teacher (children and teachers being the first two). Careful consideration is given to the look and feel of the classroom environment; indoors and out, which are organized for small, medium and large group project work. Areas are also designated for dramatic play, gross motor activity and free exploration. The outdoor environment is explored in every season with follow up activities in the classroom.
5. Documentation: of children’s work in process is an important tool for teachers, parents and children. On a regular basis teachers scribe children’s conversations around learning and wonderings, take photographs, videos, and audio recordings of children in action and the words they use to describe their learning experiences. These are used to communicate with parents about their child’s learning on an ongoing basis and to support teacher planning that is responsive to the needs and interests of the children. As children develop metacognitive skills they will also be able to document and share their learning experiences with others.
6. Parent Involvement: Parents are respected by teachers and seen as true partners in education. Their input and response to their child’s learning is encouraged, for example, as part of the documentation process.
7. Sense of Community: Educators work together with all children, families, and community partners/members to create a strong identity and interconnectedness that supports all learners.
Reggio Synopsis from: http://www.sd43.bc.ca/Programs/Reggio/Pages/default.aspx
Visit to Meadowbrook Elementary Reggio Influenced Program
My practice is influenced by the Reggio Emilia approach. In visiting the Reggio influenced school in Coquitlam I was looking forward to examining the learning environments and how they compare to traditional classrooms.
Here are a few photos of the learning environments: