The Reggio Emilia Approach

Vanessa Callan, our Director, visited the Reggio Emilia area in Italy in 2009.

She was chosen, as one of only 8 Early Years representatives from Essex, to attend an International conference and study group, hosting 400 representatives from 28 different countries.

Vanessa visited The Reggio Emilia area, its schools and educationalists. As part of this, Vanessa has brought back ideas, insights and some of the best principles, to merge with the Montessori and Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum we currently use.

Vanessa went on to consolidate her knowledge and understanding of the Reggio approach by visiting Reggio schools in Sweden and Canada.

The Reggio Emilia Approach is based on the following principles –

  • Children must have some control over the direction of their learning
  • The environment acts as a third teacher
  • A triangle exists between the teacher, child and parent with reciprocal relationships and respect between the three
  • Teachers learn to truly listen to children; documenting their dialogue and developments. The interests of the children may then fuel future projects
  • The children are seen as competent unique individuals with knowledge, understanding and interests. They have the ability to learn concepts far above those normally expected for their age.

The Reggio schools place importance on listening to children; listening to every nuance of their communication. The teachers observe, take photos, scribe and document their day and the learning processes the children go through. The interests of the child are then used and developed by the teacher, to plan and fuel a genuine desire to learn on the part of the child.

The nurseries within Reggio are beautiful huge buildings, much on the scale of our primary schools. Although we can only aspire to the beauty, size and architecture, we are developing our nursery and incorporating elements that fit with our setting, children and culture.

The Hundred Languages of Childhood

The child
is made of one hundred.
The child has
A hundred languages
A hundred hands
A hundred thoughts
A hundred ways of thinking
Of playing, of speaking.
A hundred always a hundred
Ways of listening of marveling of loving
A hundred joys
For singing and understanding
A hundred worlds
To discover
A hundred worlds
To invent
A hundred worlds
To dream
The child has
A hundred languages
(and a hundred hundred hundred more)
But they steal ninety-nine.
The school and the culture
Separate the head from the body.
They tell the child;
To think without hands
To do without head
To listen and not to speak
To understand without joy
To love and to marvel
Only at Easter and Christmas
They tell the child:
To discover the world already there
And of the hundred
They steal ninety-nine.
They tell the child:
That work and play
Reality and fantasy
Science and imagination
Sky and earth
Reason and dream
Are things
That do not belong together
And thus they tell the child
That the hundred is not there
The child says: NO WAY the hundred is there–
-Loris Malaguzzi
Founder of the Reggio Approach