The Emilia Romagna province in Northern Italy has a major contribution towards education in the early childhood years. The town revolutionized education in the age group of under 6-years in a dramatic way. The community set up schools and the schools are said to be among the best in the world. The schools were initiated as a parent initiative.

Post World War 2, parents came together and founded the first preschool to combat the gap in early education and then there was no looking back.

What is the Reggio Emilia method and Why is it Pertinent in Modern Classrooms?

The Reggio Emilia approach has its basis on the belief that even small children should be treated with respect and schools should function with active participation from the parents. The movement began with the precious inputs of the renowned educationist Loris Mataguzzi. The result was a superlative approach that resonates with the modern educators too.

The process stresses on responsiveness and openness towards new ideas on the foundation of all education. The system does away with the rigidity of curriculum in the primary level and infuses the education delivery system with the need to be on the path of stimulation in-depth research projects as the base of learning. The fundamental core of the Reggio Emilia approach is research-based learning.

1991 heralded international recognition for this approach to preschooling methods when Newsweek reported the method to be one of the best ways to initiate schooling in early childhood. Educators took due note and the process gained popularity. The hundred languages of children exhibits were a part of this campaign and the Reggio Emilia approach was introduced to the modern early learning programs across the world.

The Hundred Languages of Children

The approach embraces the power of play as an integral part of learning. The language of play and “doing” is the basis of all learning. The child has a strong individuality and has a full right to choose from his latent interest. It could be music, sculpting, painting, dancing or anything else that the child finds interesting. The children have autonomy and the power to choose what they want to learn.

In this approach, the teacher is a co-learner, guide, and mentor along with the documenter. The school environment is depicted as the third teacher. Teachers lay the stage for blended play in both small and large groups. The classroom is termed as a community and there is no rigid convention. The child directs the direction of play. The stress is on exploration and the teacher initiates and guides the play while the child decides the direction the activity should follow.

Parent participation is very integral to the process and parents are considered to be centers of learning. The wholesome and balanced approach lays the basis for self-study and research-based exploration. Friendly learning in a warm and open environment is the base of the Reggio Emilia approach.

The Role of Parents

Parents are integral pillars in this approach. The school welcomes even preschoolers not as empty minds to be filled but as capable and strong individuals to be gently guided to explore and learn. This makes the parents as the primary guides. The learning opportunities actually branch out much beyond the classroom. The approach acknowledges the role of the environment and the constituents that complete it as a learning experience.

Reggio Emilia schools integrate the role of parents in the learning experience by extending after school activities like the parent book club and much more. The parents are encouraged to treat their homes as an art center, or a book reading corner to promote the creative aspects of learning. The holistic approach of the Reggio Emilia “community” leads to accelerated learning as well as an inside-out approach to research-based study that creates strong foundations for further education and growth.

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