All About Reggio Emilia Preschools
Reggio Emilia, an educational philosophy that has become popular in the United States in recent years, originated in the Reggio Emilia district of Italy after World War II and has grown into an international movement.
The Basic Philosophy of Reggio Emilia
Educators in Reggio Emilia preschools develop general goals for the children by observing their responses to activities and then further stimulate their interest through classroom design. The curriculum emerges in the form of projects, which may come from the children or the teachers. Projects can vary in length from a few days to several months.
The Reggio Emilia approach is grounded in the work of famous educational theorists such as John Dewey, Jean Piaget, Howard Gardner, and others. Working Reggio Emilia teachers keep up with the latest research in child development and education. They continually develop new theories, ideas, and practices through daily observation of their students.
What Makes Reggio Emilia Preschools Special?
In addition to having regular teachers, all Reggio Emilia schools employ a special teacher, called the atelierista, who’s trained in visual arts and works in and maintains the school’s atelier, a workshop or studio. The atelier contains a variety of tools and materials for making projects and documenting past projects and experiences. The children’s use of these materials isn’t considered art but rather a hands-on teaching of the curriculum. The atelier concept has expanded to include small project stations, or “mini-ateliers,” set up around the classroom.
The general classroom environment, which is sometimes referred to as “the third teacher,” is constantly changed in response to the interests of the children.
Reggio Emilia teachers continually document the work and conversation of the children, through the use of:
- Audio recordings
- Project work
This documentation helps them better understand what the children are thinking and also to assess their own work as educators. And when children see their teachers studying their work, they start to understand that the work has value. This motivates them to put even more effort into future projects.
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