A quality early education directly affects a child’s chances of lifelong success, so it’s easy to see why new and prospective parents are so determined to make the right decision about a child care centre.
But there is a mountain of information and conflicting opinions out there and parents are also often faced with several options in their neighbourhood, all of which can complicate the decision-making process.
The good news is that there is one approach to early education that sets children up for long-term success – the Reggio Emilia approach.
This progressive alternative to the more traditional styles of early education delivers excellent long-term results and its global acclaim is testament to its success. In this article, we explain what’s behind the Reggio Emilia approach and why it gives young children the very best start in life.
A brief guide to Reggio Emilia
Reggio Emilia is a play-based approach to preschool and primary school education rather than a prescriptive model. Schools and educators are inspired by the philosophy of the approach and adapt it to suit their individual circumstances.
The approach is centred on the premise that children have an innate curiosity and creativity which drives them to explore and discover the world around them.
The child is seen as the main constructor of their own knowledge, with the other primary participants being the environment, the educators, the family and the wider community. In the Reggio Emilia world, it truly ‘takes a village to raise a child.
The children learn according to their own interests and at their own pace. Plus they’re encouraged to communicate and to express themselves in any way they feel that they can, without judgement or expectation.
Why Reggio Emilia gives a child the best start in life
It is important to remember that Reggio Emilia is a philosophy and that neither schools nor educators become ‘accredited’. Instead, it’s an approach to a way of life at the school or childcare centre and serves as a guide for the educators’ decisions and the curriculum initiatives.
The approach differs substantially from the more traditional education system which sees educators ‘teach’ children via a defined curriculum and prescribed outcomes. There’s no ‘learning by rote’ in Reggio Emilia environments where children simply regurgitate what they’ve been taught. Instead, the curriculum emerges organically and children learn by doing.
Their thirst for discovery is slaked through authentic play-based experiences, with the lines of enquiry in the many open-ended projects led by the child’s interests rather than by what the educators feel is the ‘right’ thing to do.
In this way, children learn without fear of judgement, criticism, comparison or failure. And as they feel truly heard and seen, their self-confidence grows and they develop a healthier sense of identity where self-expression is valued and encouraged.
Some ways that Reggio Emilia sets children up for success
By exploring things that interest them, be it through drawing, singing, sculpting, dancing, acting, playing, climbing, building or picking apart things, messing about with water and sand, role-playing with friends or quietly contemplating an item in nature, they develop the confidence to test their ideas and theories.
Children learn at a gradual pace and repetitive learning experiences are encouraged. This enables the child to explore deeper into their chosen subject matter and remember what they’ve learnt, thereby building a strong knowledge and skills base which sets them up for success in their later schooling.
Some of the benefits of Reggio-inspired environments include:
- Enables hands-on learning which encourages creative exploration
- Ensures children learn at their appropriate developmental level which decreases their level of frustration and boosts their self-confidence
- Provides multi-sensory experiences that are meaningful to each child and which therefore enable true comprehension
- Encourages critical, scientific and logical thinking
- Play-based activities enables development in all areas namely cognitive, emotional, physical and social skills
- Inspires a love of learning
Enormous value is placed on the involvement of parents, care givers, educators and the wider community in the child’s growth and development and in supporting them to realise their highest potential. As the founder of the approach, Loris Malaguzzi said: “Our task, regarding creativity, is to help children climb their own mountains, as high as possible.”
We understand that the Reggio Emilia approach is best experienced in real life, and we welcome you to see this globally-acclaimed approach in action for yourself. Why not book a tour of one of our Evoke Early Learning childcare centres in Clayton or Albert Park?
We’d love to show you how the Reggio Emilia approach guides us in our mission to provide a safe and nurturing environment that promotes knowledge and inspires a life-long love of learning in each and every child in our care – we look forward to meeting you!