Reggio Emilia Approach (page 2)

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Jul 22, 2013

Curricular Supports at Reggio

There are several completely unique features of the Reggio Emilia program that deserve description. First, in addition to teachers and many parent participants, there is a teacher trained in visual arts who is called the atelierista. There is also a special space—a studio or workshop—called the atelier. Everyone (adults and children) uses the tools and materials of the atelier.

A second feature is the environment which is often called the "third teacher." Every inch of space is designed and used to respond to the children. The space and furnishings go beyond "child friendly to a living area in which children create their worlds and stories" (Wurm, 2005, p. 35).

The third unique feature of the program is the extensive documentation of children's thinking, discussions, work, and progress that is collected and used. The documentation takes the form of photographs, tape recordings, and other records. The Reggio educators value the documentation as a way to understand the children better and a way to assess their own work as educators. At the same time, the process of collecting documentation communicates to children that their work and their efforts are valued. In addition to curriculum, routines and guidance strategies contribute so much to children's learning. In Reggio, children are quite independent when it comes to following routines such as using the bathroom. Like so many of their learning decisions, it is up to the children to determine whether they need help and whether they want to be alone or have company (Wurm, 2005).

Some of the Reggio Emilia ideas are finding their way into elementary schools in the United States today. One practice that is becoming common is the teacher and group of students staying together for more than one year. In Reggio, a pair of teachers and a group of children stay together for three years. Although their environment changes as their development progresses, the community of learners stays intact. At Reggio, teachers see themselves as researchers, continually documenting their work with children. Many U.S. elementary teachers conduct action research in their classrooms to find answers, to solve problems, and to guide their decision making, just as the Reggio teachers do. Finally, the Reggio approach works with the child in relation to other children, to the family, to the teachers, to the school environment, to the community, and to the wider society—and the interconnections and reciprocity are encouraged and supported. Many programs and schools in the United States have embraced those same important relationships and integrated them into preschool and elementary curriculum.

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