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:

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. 

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.

This article on why high quality child care matters for children’s development may help you make a decision about your child’s future.

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:

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.

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.

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:

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:

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.

In this article, we discuss how to create Reggio Emilia-inspired classrooms.

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.


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?

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:

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:

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.

Ever heard someone say their child is not creative?

Many of us are guilty of judging creativity in terms of the end result that we see or experience, but our role as adults is not to focus on the end result produced by the child, but rather on encouraging and supporting their crucial journey of creative expression.

Every child is creative and every child is capable of creative expression.  In fact, creative expression is absolutely vital for their healthy growth and development.

What is creative expression?

For a child, creative expression is about how they use things like drawing, sculpting, construction, movement music, movement and dramatic play to fire up their imaginations and articulate their thoughts and feelings.  It’s as natural as breathing to them.

And there’s nothing frivolous about their creative expression.  It’s crucial to early childhood learning and for progress on a physical, social, intellectual and emotional level.  

Allowing children the freedom to explore the world around them and providing them with appropriate materials and resources, parents and educators can facilitate the development of essential skills and facilitate learning.

Five reasons why creative expression is so vital

The value of creative expression comes from the process itself.  It’s the journey in the lies in the process, not the end product. 

It aids the development of fine motor skills

Children refine their fine motor skills when working with pencils, paints, string, clay, scissors and other types of materials.  These skills are essential for day-to-day activities like eating with a knife and fork, writing and tying shoe laces.

It has intellectual and academic benefits

Children are born explorers and creative expression fosters this natural curiosity.  It leads to innovation and discovery as children use their imaginations, communicate, develop independent opinions, try out new ideas, find solutions and solve problems.   It also promotes the development of important cognitive skills such as numeracy, language and literacy.

It fosters mental growth

Through creative expression, children are free to communicate their emotions.  They learn how to deal with their feelings appropriately and when they learn that their contributions are respected and valued, they’re more likely to develop a sense of identity and a healthy self-esteem.

Creative expression supports a child’s social development

Picture a kindergarten playground.  Whether three littlies are having fun in the sandpit, a group is climbing on the jungle-gym or some are pretend playing that they’re going shopping, their creative play and social interactions exposes them to concepts like teamwork, collaboration, sharing, empathy, negotiation, patience and taking turns. 

Creative expression celebrates the uniqueness of every child

Free exploration allows children to be themselves, without any constraints, judgement or expectation.  This is key to helping them grow more confident in showing their unique personalities and starting to develop a strong sense of self.

A final word on why creative expression is crucial in early childhood

It's interesting that creativity is a central tenet of the Reggio Emilia approach to early education which emphasises a child’s abilities, competences and natural aptitude.  It had its roots in a small northern Italian town after WWII and has since achieved global acclaim. 

Its founder, Loris Malaguzzi, believed that children weren’t empty vessels to be filled, but were born with infinite creative potential and every child was an artist in their own right.  His famous poem ‘100 Languages of Children’ refers to the myriad ways that children express this creative potential.

There’s no doubt that creative expression plays a crucially important role in many different areas of a child’s development.  But it’s important to remember that it’s about the process – not the product.  As adults, we need to celebrate that process, encourage and support each individual child and avoid judging their creative abilities on an outcome.  Each is highly capable and highly creative and by giving them the freedom for self-expression, we can help them accrue skills and benefits which can set them up for later success.

The Reggio Emilia philosophy is a holistic, play-based approach to preschool and primary education which has the child at the centre of the learning process.  Children are active participants in the classroom and construct and direct their own curriculum according to their individual interests and curiosities. 

Reggio Emilia is not an educational model with prescribed methodologies, but rather serves as an inspiration for early education environments and educators. 

Are there specific Reggio Emilia schools?

Schools aren’t ‘accredited’ and educators aren’t formally trained, but are instead inspired and guided by the principles which saw this progressive approach come to life in a small Italian village after WWII and which has now grown into an acclaimed and highly successful educational philosophy right around the world.

But not everyone finds it easy to grasp the concept of child-directed learning.  This is largely due to the fact that traditional education is based on systems where the teachers are in charge and where children learn by instruction, completing tasks which have expected outcomes. 

Contrary to what some may think, the Reggio Emilia classroom isn’t chaotic.  Children don’t run wild.  The reality is that when they are encouraged to do things that interest them, bcvxfzgthings that pique their natural curiosity, the scale, scope and depth of their learning and comprehension are quite remarkable.

Let’s unpack the principles of this approach to give you a greater understanding.

A basic guide to Reggio Emilia

There are three core elements of Reggio Emilia namely the child, the teacher and the environment.

1. The child

Each child is seen as capable, resourceful, unique, naturally curious and capable of acquiring their own knowledge.  They will forge their own paths of discovery according to what interests them.

In Reggio Emilia, children have many different ways of learning and communicating.  This concept is beautifully illustrated in the poem, ‘The 100 Languages of Children’, written by the founder of Reggio Emilia, Loris Malaguzzi.

Whether it’s through language, drawing, painting, sculpting, singing, dancing, movement, acting, role-playing, pretend play, storytelling and everything in between, children express themselves and their understanding of the world around them in a multitude of ways.

2. The teacher

Teachers and parents are seen as co-learners and collaborators, encouraging every child’s independent learning.  They aren’t ‘givers of knowledge’, but rather listen, observe, document, mentor and encourage the child to explore and discover things that interest them – and the teachers and parents themselves learn along the way too.

There’s no right or wrong way of doing things and teachers don’t set tasks that have to be completed.  Instead, children are gently encouraged and supported to experiment and find their own solutions through creative thinking.  Making mistakes is a crucial part of the learning process and much of the child’s learning is accumulated through research and problem-solving during open-ended projects.

Documentation is also a key aspect of the Reggio Emilia approach.  Teachers have different methods of doing this, including taking pictures and displaying the child’s work for teachers, parents and other children to view and engage with. 

3. The environment

The classroom environment is seen as the ‘third teacher’, enriching the child’s learning experience.   That’s why you’ll find that Reggio Emilia inspired classrooms are welcoming, nurturing spaces filled with quality materials, readily accessible tools and diverse resources that promote uninterrupted ‘hands-on’ and comprehensive discovery.

But it’s not just about the four walls of the classroom.  The outdoor environment and natural world are highly valued too and children are encouraged to move freely inside and outside the classroom as they pursue ideas and solutions at their own pace.

How does Reggio Emilia look in situ?

No two Reggio Emilia schools are the same and the very best way to visualise the philosophy is to experience it in person. 

We welcome you to book a tour of one of our Evoke Early Learning childcare centres in Clayton or Albert Park so that you can get a feel for how a Reggio Emilia-inspired early learning environment works.  We know that when you see our high-quality educational programmes that are based on each child’s interests, abilities, culture and strengths, it will be evident just why this is inclusive and child-centric approach brings out the best in each and every little person in our care.

Find out more at Evoke Early Learning or book a tour through our website.  We’d love to meet you and your family!