The Reggio Emilia Approach
The approach that the school has adopted for early years instruction is inspired by the Reggio Emilia philosophy, whereby learning is fostered through social interaction and exploration of the environment. Children are regarded as capable and competent collaborators in their own process of growth. The teachers’ role is to ensure that the environment is structured in a way that would provoke ideas and engage children into social interactions, which is essential in the learning process. They also facilitate children’s expression of their understanding by providing opportunities for different avenues to represent their ideas, such as through spoken language, gestures, drawing, painting, building, sculpting, shadow play, collage, dramatic play, music and emerging writing.
The approach is student-centered so that, though curriculum is aimed towards the achievement of specific objectives based on age-related developmental tasks, activities are planned around children’s inclinations as determined by the teacher through observations, student interviews and discussions. The curriculum is flexible and continuously develops in the process of each activity with the aim of sustaining children’s curiosity, interactions and learning.
The environment is also a key factor in children’s development. Hence, the classrooms are structured to offer a variety of learning opportunities to children. There are areas to work alone or in groups, corners with books, and shelves with different pre-selected sensory materials that pupils can use for any creative endeavor. Children are encouraged to explore and appreciate their surroundings, interact with each other, and display their work. The environment helps to educate the child; therefore, it is kept flexible, undergoes frequent modification according to determined projects, and allows children to take an active part in constructing their own knowledge.
In the approach, parents are also teachers. Hence, there are pre-planned activities where parents are invited to come to school to help facilitate their child’s learning. Instructions for projects that can be done at home are also shared through regular school communications so that children are continuously engaged in learning.