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Reggio Emilia Approach

In the Reggio Emilia Approach to learning, children are placed at the center of their learning experience and are “co-constructors” of their learning. At La Scuola, students choose how and where their class discussions will lead based on initial, provocative ideas suggested by their teachers.

Our students are prepared to thrive in a process-based, collaborative world. They are inquiry-driven, independent thinkers who communicate effectively and are comfortable finding their own way.

Reggio Emilia philosophy evolves from the methods practiced in schools in Reggio Emilia, the town in northern Italy. After World War II Loris Malaguzzi further developed the philosophy which now serves as the foundation for progressive education. Reggio Emilia-inspired education provides an innovative stance on education emphasizing the interaction of children within the context of their community and lives.

La Scuola teachers provide materials and provocations to help children develop a deep and connected understanding of the world. Environments are set up to entice the children to explore and experiment in order to host and participate in debate, discussion, and inquiry. La Scuola inquiry-based learning is aimed at provoking children’s creative and innovative thinking and problem-solving and we are open to different avenues of exploration.

This approach to learning requires dynamic thinking and constant adjustments by teachers as they shape the daily and weekly curriculum within the transdisciplinary themes and central ideas explored. Curriculum planning and implementation of the Plan of Inquiry are supported by the reciprocal nature of teacher-directed and child-initiated activity.

Teacher-child ratios are small to ensure teachers can instruct children at varying levels of Italian language proficiency, individualized learning, and foster self-discovery.

As children proceed through an inquiry, 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. The classroom environment is considered a "third teacher". They are set up to a high aesthetic standard and to create a feeling of comfort, joy, and practicality.

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.

    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.

    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.