In the Reggio Approach, teachers provide rich learning environments for children. They listen to and observe children’s expressions of interest, feelings, and thought as the children engage the environment. Building on these observations, the teachers challenge the children’s thinking and join the children in constructing understandings about their world, often engaging environments beyond the classroom. Much of the learning occurs in small groups of three to five children in which they benefit from collaboration and dialogue with one another and with the teacher. They share and negotiate multiple perspectives as they co-construct understandings. The children use a wide variety of means, especially verbal and visual, to represent their understandings. They revisit their representations, often in collaboration with others, to reflect on and extend their inquiry.
Teachers systematically document children’s conversations and representations. They meet regularly to use the documentation to interpret the children’s emerging interest and ideas and to reflect on possibilities for extending the children’s learning.
Children’s deep desire to be listened to is fulfilled by the teachers, who create a space in their minds to reflect on the children’s expression of feelings, thoughts and interest, and engage in dialogue with the children about them. The children experience these reflections from the mind of the teacher and feel valued as the source of their own motives, thoughts and perceptions.
Unlike other approaches to Early Childhood Education, the Reggio Approach does not have a prescribed curriculum. Rather, the curriculum emerges from teachers’ and children’s collaborative responses to the expressed learning interests of the children.
In our view, this approach to teaching and learning is immensely respectful of children, their rights, and their desire to learn. In this process they gain a foundation for life. They internalize the pleasures and skills of constructing meaning together, taking into account many different perspectives. They become self-motivated learners, experiencing and developing their own agency through pursuing their learning in ways that strengthen their cognitive, linguistic, social and emotional development, including the range of skills expected of preschoolers. In Reggio-inspired learning environments, children are resourceful, focused, engaged, collaborative, and expressive. The high quality of their work is visible and thoughtfully displayed on classroom walls and in hallways. Children, parents, teachers and visitors can see the value, depth and meaningfulness of the children’s learning experiences and feel part of an evolving educational process.
Source: We Are All Explorers, Daniel R. Scheinfeld, Karen M. Haigh, Sandra J. P. Scheinfeld, Forward by Lella Gandini.