Reggio Emilia Preschool Programs: Everything You Need to Know
Reggio Emilia Preschool Programs originated from Reggio Emilia in northern Italy. They engage children via the exploration of varied ideas, e.g., gardening, and other project-based activities, with the aim of making them thoroughbred citizens. For example, students engage in gardening to have a practical understanding of where plants come from, how they grow, and the nourishment that food can provide for the human body. Thus, these programs include observing what the children know, are curious about, and what challenges them to customize their early education journey to make it more meaningful and engaging. In addition, these preschool programs consider documentation of the learning process via the aid of pictures and videos – which are its key features.
The Reggio Emilia approach considers educational, sociological, and psychological influences to understand children and stimulate their learning in suitable ways. Additionally, it employs strategies to expose children to various educational opportunities that encourage communication, self-expression, problem-solving, and logical thinking.
Reggio Emilia Preschool Programs are based on four major principles, which are:
· Emergent curriculum: The curriculum is designed to be of particular interest to children. Teachers talk to children and their families and note things that are usually interesting to children (dinosaurs or puddles, for example). Then teachers compare observations and notes in team planning sessions to decide which projects would be the most suitable for children in their classes, what materials they will need, and ways to encourage parents to become involved.
· In-depth projects: Based on the children’s interests via information gathered, teachers chalk out concepts and ideas of projects. Such projects are often introduced as adventures in the classroom, which can be short-term (1-2 weeks) or long-term (throughout the entire school year). In these projects, teachers function as advisors. They help children decide the direction of their research, ways they can display their learning, and the materials they will need for it.
· Representational development: For the presentation of new ideas, the Reggio Emilia approach uses multiple forms, such as art, print, drama, puppetry, music, etc. Such varied presentations give all children an equal chance to understand and connect with the ideas being explored.
· Collaboration: Since this is considered essential to further a child’s cognitive development, small and large groups are persuaded to work together to solve problems by using comparisons, dialogues, negotiations, and other vital interpersonal skills. Every child’s voice is heard to promote a balance between a sense of self and belonging to the group.