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Reggio Emilia Approach

The Reggio Emilia approach has at its core a belief that children are born curious and competent and should be respected and celebrated; that they should be protagonists in their learning and are “co-constructors” with parents and teachers serving as collaborators; that they deserve to have beautiful environments in which to explore and construct knowledge.

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.

Classroom photo

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 is a Reggio Emilia School San Francisco families can rely on to truly immerse their children in the language and culture. Our 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. Environments are set up to entice the children to explore and experiment in order to host and participate in debate, discussion, and inquiry.

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.

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.

 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.


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.