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Reggio Emilia Approach

The Inspiration
  • Practiced in schools in Reggio Emilia, the town in northern Italy where this philosophy was originated.
  • After World War II, this progressive approach was developed by Loris Malaguzzi and serves as the foundation for progressive education.
Innovative Approach to Education
  • Recognized worldwide.
  • Emphasizes the interaction of children within the context of their community and lives (parents, peers, teachers, staff, etc).
  • Teacher provides materials and provocation to help children develop a deep and connected understanding of the world.
Essential Elements and Key Differentiators
  • Atelier or learning laboratory: here children experiment, explore, experiment and discover
  • Piazza: central meeting place of the community – where everything happens; the hub
  • Environmental Set-up
  • Using the classroom as a third teacher
  • Reggio Emilia schools create homelike environments
  • to help make children feel comfortable and learn practical life issues
  • Environments are set up to entice the children to explore and experiment in order to host and participate in debate, discussion and project work.
  • Project-based learning: successful projects are those that provoke children’s creative thinking and problem-solving and are open to different avenues of exploration.
  • This approach to learning requires dynamic/on-the-fly thinking and adjustments and reflects the world we live
  • Class sizes are small to ensures teachers can instruct children who are at varied levels of Italian language proficiency, individualize learning and foster self-discovery
Reggio Emilia Affiliation

La Scuola is a member of the North American Reggio Emilia Alliance (NAREA)

Community Support and Parental Involvement

Reggio Emilia’s tradition of community support for families with young children expands on Italy’s cultural view of children as the collective responsibility of the state.

Long-Term Projects as Vehicles for Learning

Curriculum planning and implementation revolve around open-ended and often long-term projects that are based on the reciprocal nature of teacher-directed and child-initiated activity.

The Hundred Languages of Children

As children proceed in an investigation, generating and testing their hypotheses, they are encouraged to depict their understanding through one of many symbolic languages, including drawing, sculpture, dramatic play, and writing.

Teachers as Learners and Researchers
  • Teachers’ long-term commitment to enhancing their understanding of children is at the crux of the Reggio Emilia approach.
  • Teachers routinely divide responsibilities in the class so that one can systematically observe, take notes, and record conversations between children.
  • These observations are shared with other Teachers and the Atelierista and parents in curriculum planning and evaluation.
Kinship Connections
  • Reggio Emilia’s approach to early education reflects a theoretical kinship with Dewey, Gardner, Piaget, Vygotsky, and Bruner, among others.
  • Much of what occurs in the class reflects a social constructivist approach to early education.



The Role of the Environment

 The Reggio Emilia teaching philosophy refers to the environment as a child’s third teacher.

 The physical environment is crucial to Reggio Emilia’s early childhood program.

 Major aims in the planning of new spaces and the remodeling of old ones include the integration of each classroom with the rest of the school, and the school with the surrounding community.

 Classrooms open to a center piazza, kitchens are open to view, and access to the surrounding community is assured through wall-size windows, courtyards, and doors opening to the outside in each classroom.

 Entry ways capture the attention of both children and adults through the use of mirrors (on the walls, floors, and ceilings), photographs, and the display of children’s work accompanied by transcriptions of their discussions.

 These same features characterize classroom interiors, where displays of project work are interspersed with arrays of found objects and classroom materials.

 In every aspect, the environment serves to inform and engage the viewer.

 Other supportive elements of the environment include ample space for supplies, frequently arranged to draw attention to their aesthetic features.

 In each classroom, there are studio spaces in the form of a large, centrally located atelier and a smaller mini-atelier, and clearly designated spaces for large and small group activities.

 Throughout the school, there is an effort to create opportunities for children to interact.

 Thus, the single dress-up area is in the center piazza; classrooms are connected with phones, passageways and/or windows; and lunchrooms and bathrooms are designed to encourage playful encounters.

    Preschool Campus

    Designed by Italian architect Michele Zini, an expert in Reggio Emilia inspired school design.

    To view more of Michele’s work, please click here.

    View For Yourself

    Visit our photo gallery and follow our school tour led by La Scuola Director Valentina Imbeni on YouTube.

    “What a lively community of children, parents and teachers. I’m am truly inspired and impressed that there is an Italian speaking Reggio Emilia-inspired school west of the Mississippi and was thrilled and honored to be the architect.” Michele Zini, Architect