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Reggio Approach: key concepts

The child as protagonist. Children are strong, rich and capable. All children have preparedness, potential, curiosity, and shopping simulationinterest in constructing their learning, negotiating with everything their environment brings to them. Children, teachers, and parents are considered the three central protagonists in the education process.

The child as collaborator. Education has to focus on each child in relation to other children, the family, the teachers, and the community rather than on each child in isolation. There is an emphasis on work in small groups. This practice is based on the social constructivist model that supports the idea that we form ourselves through our interaction with peers, adults, things in the world, and symbols.

The child as communicator. This approach fosters children’s intellectual development through a systematic focus on symbolic representation, including words, movement, drawing, painting, building, sculpture, shadow play, collage, dramatic play, and music, which leads children to surprising levels of communication, symbolic skills, and creativity. In this way, they make their thinking visible through their many natural “languages”.

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All children have potential
'Our image of the child is rich in potential, strong, powerful, competent and, most of all connected to adults and other children.' (Loris Malaguzzi)
From birth the child has the need and the right to communicate and interact with others. Through energy and curiosity the child constructs her own learning.
Children are connected
The child is a member of a family and a community rather than an isolated individual. The child learns through interaction with peers, adults, objects and symbols. Preschool centres are seen as a system of relations embedded in a wider social system.
The reciprocity of children
'Children are very open to exchanges and reciprocity as deeds and acts of love which they not only want to receive but also to offer. These form the basis of their ability to experience authentic growth, dependent on the elements listed above, as well as on conflict and error.' (Carlina Rinaldi)
Dancer scissorsChildren are communicators
Children have the right to use many forms of symbolic representation: words, movement, drawing, painting, building, sculpture, shadow play, collage, dramatic play, music (
the hundred languages). In using many materials they discover, communicate what they know and understand, what they wonder about, question and imagine.
The environment is the 'third' teacher

Space is designed to encourage encounters, Californiacommunication and relationships. There is order and beauty in the organisation of all the spaces in a school and the equipment and materials within it; every corner of space has an identity and purpose. The piazza and the atelier are at the heart of the preschool centre.


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The documentation as communication.

Careful consideration and attention are given to the presentation of the thinking of children and the adults who work with them. The documentation serves many purposes. It enables children to revisit their experiences. It makes parents aware of their children’s learning processes. It allows teachers to better understand children, to evaluate their own work, and to exchange ideas with other educators. Documentation also shows children that their work is valued. Transcriptions of children's words and dialogues, photographs, drawings - many different media - are used. The children feel valued and take pleasure in the process of learning.


The parent as partner. Parent participation is considered essential and takes many forms. Parents play an active part in their children’s learning experience and help ensure the welfare of all the children in the school. The ideas and skills that the families bring to the school and, even more important, the exchange of ideas between parents and teachers, favor the development of a new way of educating, which helps teachers to view the participation of families not as a threat but as an intrinsic element of collegiality and as the integration of different wisdoms. The teacher as partner, nurturer and guide. Teachers facilitate children’s exploration of themes, work on short- and long-term projects, and guide experiences of joint, open-ended discovery and problem solving. To know how to plan and proceed with their work, teachers listen and observe children closely. Teachers ask questions, discover children’s ideas, hypotheses, and theories, and provide occasions for discovery and learning
This material was taken from: Louise Boyd Cadwell: “Bringing Reggio Emilia Home"

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