12 Principles of the Reggio Emilia Educational Approach

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.


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’.


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.


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.


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…


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.


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?

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