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
- It’s about play-based learning
- 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.
- Follow your child’s lead.
- Ask open-ended questions.
- 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.