There are many theories on how young children best learn, and over the last 50 years, several approaches have emerged that seem to answer a predominant need among young learners, which include the Reggio Emilia approach. This concept was developed by a kindergarten teacher in Italy, who, with the help of local parents, formed learning strategies that are based entirely on the children’s interests and this system has been adopted by kindergarten schools all over the world.
The Core Principles of the Reggio Emilia Approach
The Reggio Emilia approach follows certain core principles, which are:
- Learning is Based on the Children’s Interests – It is critical that the children have a say in the learning material, with things that they want to learn about, and their interests are always at the forefront of the curriculum planning. There is one kindergarten in Bangkok that follows the Reggio Emilia principles, and they can easily be found with a Google search.
- Children learn through Relationships – The children learn from their relationships with other people, including their teachers, peers and members of the community, and with the emphasis on acquiring the essential skills for self-learning, the program is very learner centred, with their ideas and opinions valued to form the basis for the learning activities.
- Children Should Be Encouraged to Express Themselves in Every Situation – This is another essential ingredient of the Reggio Emilia system of learning; with children using language, art, dance and movement to express their feelings and emotions.
- Classroom Environment – This plays an important role in the learning process, with natural materials used in the decoration, with soft pastel colours, plus many examples of student work to be found on the walls, which acts as a constant reminder to the kids of what they are capable of.
- Teachers Don’t Teach – This might sound like a strange statement to make, yet Reggio Emilia teachers see themselves as facilitators of the learning process and do not instruct the children per se. The traditional approach would see the teacher instructing their students, whereas the facilitator’s role is to guide the children to the many obstacles they face and guiding them to finding their own solutions. When the children embark on a learning project, the teacher does not know where this will lead, and they will decide on the direction it takes as things unfold.
- Learning Processes Are Documented and Recorded – There are many benefits to documenting and recording the learning journey, which can help both teachers and students alike, and often the teachers will view this data with the aim of improving things.
- Parental Participation – All parents are actively encouraged to become involved in school activities, and if a parent would like to tell the children about their profession, for example, this is encouraged. The Reggio Emilia approach encourages all sectors of the community to become involved in the program, plus parents are welcome to attend workshops when the teachers explore new learning avenues.
If you want your child to get the most out of an early learning program, you can’t get any better than a kindergarten that follows the Reggio Emilia concept of learning.