Basic maths skills are easy to introduce to little ones. Rather than thinking of this as a complex subject that is only taught at school, there are loads that parents and caregivers can do to introduce the foundations of maths in a really fun way.

## Six simple steps to bring maths into everyday life

The key to a great learning experience is enjoyment. The pinnacle of education is when you don’t even realise you’re receiving it – and it’s really easy to introduce this philosophy during a child’s earliest years.

Maths isn’t solely about numbers. It’s also about shapes, angles, patterns, size, space and relationships between things. Learning to count is something that we naturally start to introduce to our children – but this is only one of the six easy steps you can take to lay important maths foundations.

1. Count out loud: Bringing number play into everyday activities is both simple and fun. Laying the table? Count out the number of forks, knives, spoons etc that you need. Enjoying a walk in the park? Hold hands and both count out loud the number of steps you take. Play clapping games and count, how many sheep in a field… You get the idea. You can also introduce the idea of addition, subtraction etc by making piles of something, such as beads. Let’s make three piles of three beads or two piles of two, for example.
2. Big vs. small: Comparing and contrasting one object to another is a great way to build the foundation of measurement skills. That dog is bigger than that one… Shall we choose the biggest watermelon… Which are the big cows and which are the little ones?
3. Learn shapes: Understanding shapes is the basis from which geometry builds. Pointing out different shapes in everyday life is such a simple way for your child to learn this concept. A book is a rectangle, a pie is a circle, a triangular road sign…  You can also combine this with the big vs. small mentioned above. A big rectangle or a small one? A large circle compared to a small one, etc.
4. Cook, measure, count… The kitchen is a great place for your little one to learn skills. Measuring out ingredients, counting how many pieces of fruit are in a recipe, understanding how measuring scales work… Not only are you embedding basic arithmetic, but you’re also beginning to nurture a love of food prep and cooking too.
5. Build things: What child doesn’t love building bricks! Stacking items on top of one another offers multiple learning opportunities. You could count how many bricks are in a tower… Let your child work out the interaction between different sizes and shapes of bricks – some will stack high, others won’t. You don’t even need brick – you can do the same with empty cartons and boxes. In fact, using these is a great way to introduce the concept of reuse and recycling into your child’s consciousness as well.
6. Get sorting: Recognising patterns is a vital skill that’s the foundation of learning equations as a child grows. Instil this from an early age by playing sorting games. Let’s sort the apples from the oranges… Let’s put the red counters in one pile and the blue in another…. Make a line – one red, one blue, one red and so on – and you can make this more complex as your child grows and becomes more adept.

As you can see, learning basic maths concepts isn’t as complicated as sitting down and doing actual maths! Turning learning into a game is the very best way you can help your child grasp the concepts upon which further mathematical skills will grow.

At Evoke Early Learning, we utilise the world-famous Reggio Emilia approach that embraces such a fun approach to learning. At the heart of everything we do while looking after your children, this is the ultimate way to nurture a child’s passion for knowledge, encourage their natural curiosities and help them discover and embrace their place and identity in the world around them.

Discover more about our programs, values and Early Years Learning Framework – and book a tour to see our passionate team in action.

The first few years of a child’s life have the biggest impact on their future. It’s during these critical times that vital neural connections are being forged, a love of discovery and learning is nurtured, and the stable building blocks of independence are being laid… The crucial foundations from which the future adult will rise are sown during these precious years.

That’s why Evoke Early Learning follows a curriculum that embraces the ultimate proven early education method that sets your child up for a life of success – the Reggio Emilia Approach.

## The Benefits of Reggio Emilia & Why It’s So Advantageous for Your Child

The Reggio Emilia Approach has its roots in Northern Italy. Developed after World War 2 by a teacher who worked with local parents to provide childcare after the conflict, it was based on the following:

• Community, respect and responsibility.
• To encourage exploration and discovery.
• To provide an enriching and supporting environment.

And very importantly (not to mention ground-breaking):

• Utilised a self-guided curriculum.

This all stemmed from the (very much ground-breaking at the time) opinion that the adult the child had the potential to become was wholly influenced during the earliest developmental years.

This innovative approach that began in a tiny Northern Italian village wasn’t just a step in the right direction… It spawned a whole new early education movement that’s now embraced in well over 145 countries and territories around the world.

Naturally, the concept has evolved. As our understanding of child development has increased and the importance of the environment in which they learn, play and grow has been proven, so the approach has been further honed.

Today, the Reggio Emilia Approach has seven guiding principles. However, even while the original concepts have been increased and reworded, the original vision still holds true. In 2024, this early educational curriculum is based around the following:

1. The child is capable of constructing their own learning.
2. Community is important and children learn through collaborating with their communities.
3. Humans are natural communicators and children should be encouraged to express themselves.
4. The environment is the third teacher and must be enriching and supportive.
5. Teachers are partners, nurturers and guides, helping children explore their interests through multi-dimensional projects.
6. A child’s learning should be documented.
7. Parental/caregiver participation is vital.

So, what makes it so effective – and how does it support your child’s future success?

### Curiosity and experimentation

Children love to explore. From watching a crawling ant to marvelling at the feel of silky sand pouring through their fingers, probing this natural curiosity promotes the joy of learning. A child will naturally gravitate towards what interests them – and this is wholly encouraged at Evoke. This drives self-learning and allows a child to discover their natural drive and desire to learn more. These are the vital seeds that will power future interests, study and the ability to forge a pathway through life that brings fulfilment and satisfaction.

### Collaboration and co-construction

The role of the Evoke childhood educator is to encourage children to follow their passion, but also to share and collaborate with others. Each child is unique and learns in their own way – we’re here to gently guide the journey. Interactions with other children and their teachers promote a sense of community and the learning of positive social skills. It also provides a safe place where children can begin to navigate environmental complexities at their own pace. This helps create the building blocks of confidence – something that provides the basis upon which solving future challenges can spring from.

### Relationship building

Listening and learning are key relationship-building skills. We promote an environment where children not only feel safe, but are actively encouraged to express themselves, ask questions, pause for reflection and explore positive interaction with both teachers and their peers.

### Communication

One thing you might hear about the Reggio Emilia Approach is that there are 100 languages. This describes the many different ways in which humans express themselves. Whilst the act of talking is one of these, there many other – often subtle – ways that we signal to those around us. From body language to facial expressions, the spoken word to communicating through music, art, dance and more – and, of course, the many different languages that our delightfully multi-cultural landscape brings.

### Participation

A sense of belonging is key to positive development. Yes, exploration and group participation are key to exploration and learning, but feeling part of a community is an essential human need. Our highly skilled educators help like-minded children play and discover together, further boosting the educational journey and development of key physical and psychological skills.

The Evoke team welcomes conversations to help parents and caregivers further understand the Reggio Emilia Approach. Or why not book a tour at either our Albert Park or Clayton centre to see us in action and get to meet us face to face? We look forward to hearing from you.

If you’re investigating childcare and early education options for your little one (or your future little one!) and live in or around Melbourne’s south eastern suburbs, then Evoke Early Learning in Clayton should be on your radar.

As with all our Evoke Early Learning centres, our Clayton site is inspired by the Reggio Emilia educational philosophy which emphasises children's natural curiosity.  This globally acclaimed and highly successful approach values each and every child as capable, confident and competent and able to self-direct their learning process according to what inspires and interests them.

This child-focused approach informs the entire way of life at our Evoke centres.

We’ll chat about why Evoke Early Learning is one of the best early schools in Clayton, but first let’s take a look at some of the core aspects of a great child care centre.

## What makes a great child care centre?

There are plenty of different elements involved in quality early education including:

• a safe, secure and positive environment
• a happy space where children and their families feel welcome
• a passionate and dedicated team who are qualified, experienced, warm and caring
• a meaningful, play-based learning programme which supports, inspires and engages every single child
• high-quality resources and materials
• a genuine desire and commitment to support each child to develop to their full potential

We’re often asked how these elements are entrenched across the fairly extensive age range that we look after (we have 165 places for children aged from six months to five years at our Clayton site) and our answer is simple.

Relationships are at the heart of our centres and our values underpin all that we do at Evoke Early Learning in Clayton.

• People
• Integrity
• Quality
• Passion
• Growth

These values provide a framework for our attitudes and our actions and are the guiding compass for how the team goes about their work each and every day.

## How our values guide and motivate daily life at Evoke Early Learning Clayton

First of all, we have total faith in Reggio Emilia as the very best way for little people to learn and grow.   It’s an approach to early education as opposed to a model and schools that adopt this philosophy use it to inspire and inform daily life rather than to prescribe a rigid framework.  And we know from experience just how successful this approach is in empowering young children, building their self-confidence, developing key skills and inspiring a lifelong love of learning.

Our Evoke Early Learning Clayton team has extensive experience working with young babies through to pre-school and kindergarten-aged children and with their total dedication to their craft, genuine care and concern for every individual child and a deep passion for inspiring their charges to be their best selves, they’ve created safe, happy, engaging and welcoming spaces where parents feel totally comfortable leaving their precious bundles and where the children love to be.

## Discover more about Evoke Early Learning Clayton

We’d love to meet you if you’re on the lookout for a quality childcare centre close to Oakleigh, Clayton and neighbouring suburbs such as Chadstone, Clarinda, Glen Waverley, Huntingdale, Mount Waverley, Mulgrave, Notting Hill, Springvale and Wheelers Hill.

We know that words don’t tell the full story and we also know that first-hand experience is the very best way to find the right childcare or kindergarten for your child.  That’s why we encourage you to book a tour to see our nurturing space for yourself so that you can form your own opinion.

Please get in touch with the friendly team at Evoke Early Learning in Clayton to book a personal tour and see our centre in action!

We understand that choosing a child care centre for your little one can be a challenge, but if you live near South Melbourne, look no further than Evoke Early Learning in Albert Park.

While it may sound like we’re blowing our own trumpet, we’re confident that Evoke Early Learning in Albert Park is one of the best early schools close to South Melbourne.  We truly believe that the way of life here, our beautiful and inspiring spaces, our educational philosophy, our strong values, our supportive relationships, our experienced and caring team and our overall professionalism in everything that we do sets us apart from other child care centres and kindergartens.

But don’t take our word for it!  Check out our many Google reviews and our 4.5 star rating and if you’d like to experience our centre for yourself before you make that all-important decision, we warmly invite you to book a tour.

## Why is Evoke Early Learning Albert Park different from other child care centres?

For starters, everyday life at our centre is guided by the globally acclaimed Reggio Emilia approach to early education.  This innovative philosophy recognises, values and respects each child as a uniquely creative, curious and capable individual who can self-direct their own learning based on their passions, observations and interests.

Reggio Emilia is widely acknowledged as setting a strong foundation for a young child’s readiness for entry into kindergarten and early school and for inspiring a lifelong love of learning.

We know from experience that children thrive in play-based environments and that’s why our classrooms and outdoor areas have been carefully designed and purposefully resourced to support this self-guided curriculum through play.  Our safe and nurturing spaces have also been curated to suit the children’s different developmental stages.

Our spaces are also very nature-forward because the Reggio Emilia approach believes that the environment is the ‘third teacher’ (alongside the educators and the child’s parents, family and community).

Another important differentiator is our inclusive and authentic environment which is culturally representative of the community around us.  Everyone is welcome - and made to feel welcome.

### How does our approach set us apart?

We’ve talked about Reggio Emilia and how this inspirational philosophy has influenced the way of life at Evoke Albert Park, but it’s also important to know how your child will benefit from this approach.

In a nutshell, our approach builds the following skills and abilities:

• Resilience
• Responsibility
• Self-confidence
• Empathy
• Teamwork and collaboration
• Social skills
• Problem-solving
• Scientific and critical thinking
• Language and cognitive skills
• Fine and gross motor skills

Our centre supports every aspect of a baby and young child’s development - and for some useful background on the vital formative years, check out this article on why high-quality child care matters for children’s development.

### Why our values are important

Professional, trusting and reciprocal relationships are at the heart of what we do.

We put enormous value on nurturing strong and positive relationships between educators and the children, between our school team and the child’s family, between the children themselves and between the children and the wider community.   In short, we value people.

Our team is comprised of professionals who dedicate their heads, hearts and hands to supporting and guiding your child to thrive.

Integrity is another defining characteristic of Evoke Early Learning Albert Park.  We do what we say we’ll do and we’ll always be transparent and open.  Your family will be an integral member of our wider school family and we welcome your participation as an active partner, collaborator and co-advocate for your little one during these vital formative years of learning.

We’re also deeply committed to setting the benchmark in terms of excellence in early education and care.  We don’t want to be ‘just another child care centre’.  We aim to be the best.

A final word on why you should consider Evoke Early Learning Albert Park If your child is aged from six months to five years and you’re considering child care options in the area around South Melbourne, we’d love to meet your family.  We have 135 places at our premises located at 230 Albert Road, South Melbourne and you can get in touch us through the website, by phone on 03 9682 2220 or via email at admin.albertpark@evokeearlylearning.com.au.

If you’ve chosen a Reggio Emilia-inspired early learning school for your child or are considering enrolling them in one which embraces the principles of this child-centric philosophy, you may be interested to learn how to incorporate Reggio Emilia ideas in your home.

After all, the Reggio Emilia philosophy is a lifestyle approach, not confined to a classroom setting - so establishing a harmonious continuity between school and the home will give your child the very best platform for a lifelong love of learning.

## What is Reggio Emilia?

Reggio Emilia views all children as capable, creative and independent learners who have an innate curiosity about the world around them.  This unique method of early childhood education puts the child at the centre of their learning experience, pursuing topics which interest them and learning at their own pace.

The approach also recognises that children express themselves in a myriad ways (read our blog to learn more about the ‘100 Languages of Children’).  It emphasises engagement, experimentation, self-expression and problem-solving with stimulating, multi-sensory and aesthetically-pleasing environments acting as the ‘third teacher’.  The other ‘teachers’ are educators, the community and parents who are seen as co-constructors of knowledge and collaborators guiding the child’s learning journey.

### Important considerations when looking to incorporate Reggio Emilia at home

Creating a sense of excitement and energy at home will help continue the child’s learning process outside of our Evoke Early Learning classrooms.

If you bear the following in mind, it will be easier to maintain seamless connections to their learnings at school and facilitate your child’s ongoing exploration and discovery while they’re at home.

• Children aren’t empty vessels to be filled by adults imparting knowledge
• Children learn through experience, thinking critically and solving problems
• Reggio Emilia is about relationships
• Communication is key
• The child is empowered to self-direct their learning

### Ways to incorporate Reggio Emilia in the home

Here are some practical, easy ways that you can support your child’s learning journey at home and make it more meaningful.

• Create a home environment that is an inspiring ‘third teacher’ and which evokes wonder and delight.  Natural light is encouraged as far as possible.
• Make sure furniture is accessible either though step stools or by having some child-sized pieces of furniture.
• Provide easily accessible and multi-sensory materials and resources that spark their curiosity and which help them pursue their interests independently.
• Aim for an interesting variety of items that your child can explore freely - and try and avoid plastic purpose-made toys as far as possible.  Examples are natural materials (pebbles, shells, pine cones, seed pods, plants, bark), art items (crayons, paper, paint, play-doh), loose parts like mosaic tiles, wooden building blocks, fabrics of various textures, mirrors, wool and cardboard tubes as well as magazines and books.  And remember, home supplies work equally well as shop-bought things (if not better), so put your own imagination to work!
• Get involved with your child’s school and find out what topics they are currently interested in so that you can extend that interest in the home.
• Take time out to play with your child when you’re not distracted or busy.
• Let them direct the direction and pace of the activity.  They learn by doing, so let them problem-solve naturally.  You won’t be enabling them if you provide them with the solution or simply feed them information.
• Have meaningful conversations to discover their passions.
• When you notice an area of particular interest, you can provide specific materials to support that path of discovery as well as expose them to real-life examples of it.  For example, if your child showed a particular interest in the sea, you could take them to an aquarium.
• Don’t focus on the end result.  There often isn’t one.
• Positively acknowledge their thought processes, discoveries, creations and mistakes with enthusiasm and encouragement - and without judgement or expectation!
• The Reggio Emilia approach values each child equally - and you can help your child feel respected, valued and appreciated by giving them responsibilities.  Doing tasks such as setting the table, taking care of the family pet, looking after indoor plants etc will empower them through hands-on experiences.

### A last word on incorporating Reggio Emilia at home

The entrenched traditional approach which puts children as empty vessels and parents and educators as the imparters of knowledge can make it feel counter-intuitive to let your child direct their own path of learning.  With practice however, this approach does become easier and you will soon see the benefits of watching your curious, creative and capable child learn, grow and thrive through their self-directed enquiry.

They will of course, need your guidance, support, humour, encouragement and love along the way - and together with input from the caring and professional team at our Reggio Emilia-inspired Evoke Early Learning Centres in Clayton and Albert Park,  you can set your child up for a lifelong love of learning and wonder and appreciation for the world around them.

You probably already know that there are a number of different approaches to early education and you may be wondering which one is best for your little one.  Choosing a childcare centre or early school is a big decision and it’s definitely not a case of ‘one-size-fits-all’.

This article examines two of the most popular and successful approaches - Reggio Emilia and Montessori - which share similarities but also many differences.  The article will be helpful if you are weighing up your options and need to start making decisions about enrolling your child or putting their name on a waiting list.

Before we delve into the two methodologies, let’s take a quick look at how they started out.

## Origins of Montessori

Both Montessori and Reggio Emilia have their origins in post-war Italy in the early 20th century.

Montessori was founded by Italian educator, physician and scientist, Dr Maria Montessori who opened her first school in a slum in inner city Rome in 1907.  Despite community misgivings about the previously unschooled children’s ability to learn, she was determined to succeed and soon observed that they were absorbing knowledge from their surroundings and were essentially teaching themselves.

Within a few months, she opened several more schools and news of the alternative, child-centric approach quickly spread. Today, there are thousands of Montessori schools all over the world and many of Dr Montessori’s original ideas have been incorporated into mainstream education.

## Origins of Reggio Emilia

The Reggio Emilia approach was borne out of a desire by a community of working parents in a small northern Italian town of the same name to find a different kind of ‘doing’ childcare.  They joined forces with local educator and psychologist, Loris Malaguzzi and in 1963, they opened the first secular preschool to focus on child-directed learning rather than teacher-led instruction.

Since then, the approach has also gained enormous worldwide popularity, fostering critical thinking and collaboration skills among young children by recognising each child’s potential, innate curiosity and creativity and their capabilities and competencies. The Reggio Emilia approach follows 12 principles.

## Similarities between Montessori and Reggio Emilia

Both are alternative early childhood educational methods which aim to educate the whole child and both seek to create respectful, responsible and engaged citizens who live harmoniously with others.

They both embrace the concept that every child has an innate potential for learning in a variety of ways and are centred on the child’s self-selection of activities and participation.

## Similarities between Reggio Emilia and Montessori

Here’s what the two methodologies share:

• A child-centric and nurturing approach.  Each child is valued as capable, creative and resilient
• A strong belief that children have an incredible potential for learning
• Play-based early learning with a focus on sensory experiences
• Self-directed, self-paced hands-on learning
• A strong focus on classroom design.   Learning areas are set up for individuals and groups to interact and collaborate and furniture is sized appropriately for children.
• No formal assessments for grading or testing
• A strong focus on documentation, visual display of every child’s work and building of portfolios

Both approaches welcome and encourage involvement by the whole school community, especially parents and caregivers.  In Reggio schools, particular focus is placed on education being a partnership with the wider community.

## The differences between Montessori and Reggio Emilia

Here’s how the two approaches differ:

• Reggio Emilia schools are generally geared for pre-school children whereas there are Montessori schools for older children.
• Reggio Emilia education is based on the child’s own interests.  In Montessori, materials are presented to the children who then make choices.
• Children in Montessori schools choose from pre-prepared age-specific learning materials and activities, whilst Reggio children explore and experiment with a variety of objects, tools, materials and activities in their environment in any way they choose, depending on what piques their interest.  Both are child-led, but Reggio Emilia is less structured and more flexible.
• Montessori follows a general curriculum which is more structured and academically focused with specific goals, whereas Reggio Emilia doesn’t follow any set curriculum.  In Reggio schools, teachers and children work collaboratively so that learning is open-ended and the evolution and journey of learning depends on the students’ individual interests and responses.
• In Reggio Emilia, the classroom environment is seen as the ‘third teacher’.
• Children of mixed ages share the same Montessori classroom (eg 3, 4 and 5-year olds will be together) and teachers can often have the same students for a number of years, whereas Reggio Emilia classes are traditionally age-based for a single academic year.
• Reggio Emilia educators don’t undertake specialist training over and above their formal qualifications, but instead are inspired by the approach and are free to apply the principles as they wish.  Montessori teachers have to be accredited.

## A few final words on Reggio Emilia vs Montessori

The first thing to understand is that one approach is not better than the other.  They’re similar in many ways, but they’re also quite different and the important thing is to find a school which is the best fit for your child. Doing thorough research before making a choice of early learning is vital.  If you’re considering a Reggio Emilia kindergarten, you’re welcome to book a tour of one of our Evoke Early Learning childcare centres in Clayton or Albert Park.  Our friendly and professional team has all the information you need to make a well-considered decision and we look forward to meeting you.

Prospective parents often ask us about our classroom set-up and how our spaces support our Reggio Emilia-inspired approach to teaching and learning.

Well, because this innovative pedagogical approach differs significantly from the traditional teaching method, our classrooms at Evoke Early Learning have a different look and feel to more mainstream environments.

The Reggio Emilia philosophy put the child firmly at the centre - and in control - of their own learning.  Our children don’t learn by instruction in a group teaching environment.  In Reggio-inspired schools, learning is directed by the child.  That’s why our classroom layouts are carefully planned to encourage this child-directed learning by offering a diversity of options for exploration and discovery.

## How to implement the Reggio Emilia Approach in the classroom

Before we delve into the practical side of implementing the Reggio Emilia approach into physical spaces, it’s important to note that the approach doesn’t have prescribed methods or instructions that can be followed.  It’s a philosophy and individual schools and educators are free to interpret and adopt its principles in any way they see fit.

That’s why no two Reggio classrooms are the same.

A central tenet of Reggio Emilia is that every child is born with an innate curiosity and creativity and so the spaces should be set up to emphasise and support this.  The classroom set-up should facilitate encounters between the children themselves, between children and educators and between children and the environment (the ‘third teacher’).

Spaces should be light and airy, welcoming, nurturing, captivating and inspiring and should be filled with materials that invoke a sense of wonder. The set-up should also facilitate easy interaction between the children and the outdoors.

The Reggio way doesn’t have the whole class doing the same thing at the same time. Instead, there is a wide range of activities taking place around the classroom and outside in the playground as the children experiment, discover the world around them, solve problems and find solutions.

### Layouts and colour schemes

The whole idea is to encourage children to think for themselves and follow a path of discovery on a topic that they’re interested in - rather than participate in group activities set by the teacher.

There’s no formal curriculum nor is there a hierarchical situation where the teacher is the leader and the children follow instructions.  Instead, teachers are co-constructors of knowledge and they encourage, help, support and guide the children.

You’ll find Reggio classroom layouts are designed to be inviting ‘homes-from-home’, uncluttered yet engaging and stimulating.  The emphasis is on natural materials and objects, with a neutral colour scheme and as much natural light as possible.

### Practical ways to support the Reggio Emilia philosophy in the classroom

Teachers can set up ‘mini stations’ in a Reggio classroom where a small group of children (generally no more than four) have the opportunity to explore with different materials.

These activity tables or areas support the child’s natural curiosity and their creative responses - and can involve a variety of different types of play including sensory play, loose parts play, water play, play involving constructing, deconstructing and combining materials and so on.

Children move across different areas, participating in things that pique their own interests.  Activities, objects and materials are all there to inspire connections and encourage children to express themselves in a variety of ways.  (This blog reveals all about the ‘100 languages of children’ and the myriad ways they learn and grow).

All the while, children will be developing crucial skills including fine and gross motor, hand-eye co-ordination, cognitive, numeracy, literacy, emotional, social, critical thinking, problem-solving and communication skills.

### Presentation of the children’s work

Documentation is a key aspect of Reggio Emilia and educators should put a strong focus on displaying the children’s efforts around the classrooms.

This visual documentation serves as an ongoing record of the children’s activities and is part of the important feedback loop between parents, caregivers, other teachers and the children themselves.  It also plays a vital role in demonstrating to the children that their ideas are important and valued.

This documentation and display of each child’s work (which can be a piece of art, some writing, an aspect of an open-ended project they’re working on, literally just about anything) makes them feel appreciated.  Plus it serves as an important communication channel between the parents, educators and the children.

This brings us to the important role that parents and caregivers play in Reggio Emilia.

### Parental involvement

Parents are a child’s first-ever teacher and their role is valued and encouraged in Reggio-inspired schools.  They’re seen as partners in the child’s educational journey.

Classrooms should be set up to be welcoming for both parent and child and should encourage open communications and the sharing of information.

## Discover more about the Reggio Emilia Approach in the Classroom

We encourage you to  book a tour of one of our Evoke Early Learning childcare centres in Clayton or Albert Park. to experience our Reggio Emilia-inspired classrooms in action.  Our spaces have been carefully designed to be welcoming, authentic, culturally representative of our communities and are purposefully resourced to support each child’s unique interests and personality.

The layout of our environments promotes relationships and encourages open communication, collaboration and exploration through play with a particular emphasis on the natural world.

We welcome you to book a tour of one of our centres or get in touch.

The Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education is unique. Hailing from a small town in Italy, it centres around the belief that every child has a number of natural attributes to be nurtured and honed.

These include:

•          Being strong, capable and resilient

•          Rich in wonder and knowledge

•          Having an innate curiosity

•          Being creative

•          Has the potential to understand the world and the part they play within it

In contrast to many other types of early childhood education, Reggio Emilia doesn’t have a pre-defined curriculum. Instead, everyone involved in the child’s upbringing plays a part, be they parents, caregivers, early childhood educators or part of the wider family circle.

For those not familiar with the approach, the easiest way to further understand it is to look at the 12 defining principles.

### The 100 languages of expression

This is a method of describing the extraordinary potential of all children. During the earliest years, a child uses various ways to communicate – verbal and non-verbal - to speak to those around them, absorb information and in their interactions with others. All of these are of equal value – the so-called ‘100 languages’ that a child speaks.

### Children are active protagonists

Every child possesses incredible learning potential. Through constant engagement and communication with parents, family, peers, teachers and the environment, they follow a steep learning curve that sees them flex and change according to what they encounter. All children have the right to be valued for this – for what makes them unique – and should have the opportunity to take an active role.

### The environment is the teacher

Both indoor and outdoor areas are fashioned to encourage exploration. They are designed to be both functional and aesthetically pleasing, stimulating children’s curiosity and creativity. Such safe and familiar surroundings are a crucial element, creating a feeling of belonging and a place where autonomy and communication skills can be learned and honed.

### Participation

Everyone is involved in a child’s learning journey. Their education is global, with educators and families taking part – and the child takes the starring role. Through this participation, growing as an individual becomes a democratic and reciprocal process – one that evolves each day through the many interactions and the aforementioned ‘100 languages’.

### Listening

A key component of the educational relationship is reciprocal listening between the children, adults and the environment around them. This mutually cooperative attitude is ongoing and stimulates dialogue and dynamic learning.

### Individual and group learning

As children move through the educational process, they are actively encouraged to be co-constructors in the journey. This is fostered by

personal relationships with all around them – educators, peers and the environment. Using play, curiosity, dialogue and creativity, children discover their own boundaries and learn important life skills that allow them to explore challenges, risk and uncertainty in a safe, constructed location.

### Research

A constant process that’s shared between the children and the adults. This is documented and used to advance the educational process as discussed in the remaining points.

### Documentation

A visible and valuable method of understanding both individual and group learning journeys. This tangible documentation can be revisited, reconstructed and assessed many times during the educational process and can be accessed by all involved – educators, children, parents, family…

### Progettazione

This Italian term describes the active process of how the environment, learning activities, teaching, staff development and opportunities for participation are constantly evolving. It’s not pre-defined – it’s a dynamic process that’s constantly changing through observation and above mentioned research and documentation. This is then reflected on and interpreted to be actioned.

### Organisation

Every aspect of the approach needs careful consideration. This includes the spaces in which the children play, the time spent in each, as well as the managerial, administrative and political elements of the learning community.

### On-going assessment

This is a continuous process in both a formal and informal manner. It gives value and meaning to the whole experience and complements the research, documentation, organisation and reflection that are key components of the Reggio Emilia principle.

### Professional development

Involving all members of staff, this aims to increase their awareness and understanding of the whole learning concept. Reflective practices play a major role, along with continuing dialogue between staff, pupils, family members and anyone else involved within the learning community.

At Evoke Early Learning, the Reggio Emilia approach is central to our curated approach to those vital pre-school years. This highly successful and proven childcare educational practice forms the basis upon which our childcare philosophy is built. With a number of centres across Victoria, Evoke Early Learning provides a safe, happy and nurturing environment to complement the security of home. Why not book a tour of one of our Evoke Early Learning childcare centres in Clayton or Albert Park?

The success of the Reggio Emilia approach within early childhood education has been mirrored in continents across the world. With its roots in Italy, Europe, this unique method is guided by the concept that the teacher is more of a partner in learning, as opposed to presenting a structured educational syllabus.

Respecting the child is at the heart of Reggio Emilia, something that’s immediately apparent when you view an educator with their charges. In complete contrast to conventional teaching, you’ll notice that these early childhood educators work at the same level as their class – either sitting on the floor with them or using child-sized chairs.

This, of course, isn’t the only difference. But it is the first and most instantly noticeable factor when walking into a Reggio Emilia classroom. Unless, of course, the pupils have directed their learning experience toward one of the tactile indoor or outdoor environments or are taking some time out in a quiet zone.

## The Natural Curiosity of the Child Mind

One of the biggest differences between Reggio Emilia and conventional early childhood learning is that the child leads the way. Rather than the teacher defining a set learning roadmap, children are encouraged to follow what most piques their curiosity.

For example, the teacher might instigate conversations about what children did on their holidays. As their pupils talk about their own experiences, who knows where the chatter might lead? Children’s questions can be delightfully simple or incredibly complex – and the whole idea is to follow wherever this thought plan this might lead. The advantages of this are many:

• Children question and learn about topics that truly interest them
• It increases their natural inquisitiveness
• It creates a sound basis from which a thirst for knowledge grows
• It sets the building blocks for a lifelong love of learning

In short, the teacher provides the guiding hand necessary to create the very best start in life for future learning.

## The All-Important Subject of Space

Another vital aspect of the Reggio Emilia approach is that the teacher gives their children the space to do what truly inspires them. Early childhood education should be about the freedom to express yourself in many ways. Creativity is something to be treasured, which is why the classroom space will contain many different mediums in which children can use and hone their unique skills.

Tactile apparatus – such as sand, water, building blocks, plants and many other items - will be freely available in a Reggio Emilia classroom. You might find an art area, a garden, a place for reading, a large space for dance… Importantly, this will be open plan and welcoming – a place where the teacher can be led by what the children want to do, rather than a structured regime. Reggio Emilia considers that environment to also be a teacher, which is why this learning space construction is so important.

The whole concept is that the children build a strong, trusted connection with their teacher, who acts more as a learning partner than an overarching figure of authority.

Another example of the approach is when children ask questions. Rather than simply giving an answer, the teacher will use this to guide the child or group to work it out for themselves. Not only will the adult be physically down at the same level as their pupils, but also figuratively, directing the children to follow their natural curiosity that leads from one question to another.

## Reggio Emilia Benefits both Students and Teachers

This hands-on, innovative approach to early childhood education doesn’t only benefit pupils – teachers also love the interactive approach. In such a facility, the philosophy of embracing each child’s individuality and the personal elements of Reggio Emilia eliminates the danger of teachers becoming too removed from their pupils. This even applies at management level, because following the concept requires all staff to be involved – remember, the environment is the teacher - and that includes everyone in the school.

From nursery through toddler and kindergarten, all the Evoke Early Learning centre locations are delighted to guide their charges through the highly acclaimed Reggio Emilia approach.

We would love to show you around one of our Evoke Early Learning centres so why not book a tour of one of our Evoke Early Learning childcare centres in Clayton or Albert Park?

Art is smart in early childhood development.

Every child is innately creative and there are so many ways that they benefit from art exploration during their early education.  Whether they’re sorting pencils into colours, getting messy with clay or swooshing paint onto paper, the skills and lessons they learn from participating in arts and crafts are invaluable as they progress through their early years and onwards throughout life.

A child’s natural curiosity is what drives them to explore their surroundings and make sense of the world and their place in it.  During art play in an early learning environment, children experiment, examine, discover and decipher using a variety of materials and the possibilities for learning and development are infinite.

## What young children learn through art exploration

Art time in a childcare or early learning centre allows little people to freely express their creativity, communicate their ideas, try new things and experiment with materials.

Self-expression without judgement or expectation is crucial for a child’s healthy development, and when combined with the many cognitive, social, emotional and physical benefits of art exploration, it’s evident why this is such a vital activity in early education.

### Important skills children learn during art

#### Physical Skills

Gripping pencils or a paintbrush, moulding clay, glueing bits onto a collage, bending pipe cleaners, cutting or tearing paper – these are all excellent ways to help young children learn to control small movements and develop their fine motor skills.

#### Maths and numeracy skills

Counting pencils.  Painting patterns and shapes.  Cutting out different things.  During art play, children can be exposed to a variety of maths and numeracy concepts and they can start practising their skills in these areas.

#### Language and communication skills

When an educator encourages conversation with the child about their art and provokes discussion about the process, different textures, materials etc, it’s an opportunity for the child to practise their language and communication skills and learn new vocabulary.  A child can also share their work with other children and parents, creating opportunities to develop their language skills.

#### Cognitive development

Through art, children learn to express their ideas and their imagination.  For example, when they use the same material in different ways (eg thick paint vs paint that is diluted with water, pressing hard with a crayon vs a light touch, creating with freshly picked leaves vs dried ones), they learn about things such as cause and effect, critical thinking, decision-making and problem-solving.

#### Social and emotional skills

Children feel a sense of achievement when they create something and it can lead them to feel good about themselves and develop a positive self-esteem.  They learn that they have control over their effort. They can also learn about respecting and appreciating that everyone’s self-expression is unique and valuable.  Exploration through art can also help them to experiment with new materials and ideas and to translate these experiences into other areas of life.

#### Art in early years education

There are clearly many reasons why art should be a regular feature in any early education curriculum.  It shouldn’t be restricted to being a ‘special occasion’ activity, but should rather be integral to the daily routine so that children benefit from the myriad educational and developmental opportunities that it presents.

Educators and adults alike can facilitate learning through art exploration by doing the following:

• Providing a variety of materials and resources to encourage sensory play, innovation and creativity
• Supporting and encouraging child-directed expression
• Giving the child the freedom to discover and experiment
• Focusing on the process, rather than the outcome
• Embracing wherever a child is on their creative journey without judgement or expectation
• Asking open-ended questions to encourage conversation

Free expression is vital for a child’s healthy growth and development which is why artistic activities are so valuable in early education.  A child need not produce a masterpiece to have a meaningful artistic experience - and the skills and benefits accrued throughout the creative process are what’s important, not the end product.