The Reggio Emilia Approach to early childhood education focuses on some core values that encourage, support and allow children to take part in their own learning. It allows parents, teachers, and children to participate together in the child’s education, makes “visible” through carefully articulated documentation the child’s learning, and places strong emphasis on the learning environment.
This approach also stresses that children should be presented with endless ways and opportunities that allow them to express themselves. Perhaps a well-known aspect of this popular approach is "The Hundred Languages Of Children" term that is often used. This means that children are accomplished in using a wide variety of ways to express their thoughts, their theories & ideas, their creativity, and of course their understanding & knowledge.
A Hundred Ways To Discover, Think, And Learn
The "language" of a child does not simply involve using verbal skills. In Reggio the " language" of the child is referring to the many, many faceted ways children use to discover, communicate and learn. Each one of these ways is to be valued and nurtured within the learning environment. It is also believed that learning and playing are not separate, but are actually all related and recognized as different ways of learning.
Ways of learning might include drawing, dance, pretend play, music, modelling, movement, construction, sculpting, or painting, just to name a few. This type of learning allows a child to incorporate all of their five senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch, as well as allowing for hands-on learning experiences.
Those who teach in this way will not follow the same protocol as a "regular" elementary school teacher who has a structured classroom setting where everyone is learning the exact same thing at the exact same time. Instead, the teachers will provide ways for adults and children to understand each other better by using many different methods for thinking, negotiating, constructing ideas, revisiting, and developing and expressing thoughts and feelings.
How do Teachers Implement The Hundred Ways Of Learning
Teachers who are inspired by the Reggio values will allow children to investigate a situation and form and test their hypotheses about it. As they do this, the children are encouraged to communicate their understanding about what they are doing through a form of symbolic "language". This could include writing, drawing, sculpting, or be expressed through play. Teachers encourage working together to resolve any problems that may arise, and teachers will observe debates and negotiations within the classroom as to whether or not the child's representation adequately portrayed what they were trying to express.
If the child's representation didn't convey what they were trying to express, they will be encouraged to revisit their work and may go back to change it so that it better expresses their understanding of the topic. Through this learning process, teachers encourage children to be involved in the process of exploring and evaluating situations, while recognizing the importance of the work the child has done.
The Reggio Emilia Approach to learning is being seen as being a very innovative and inspirational approach to education for children worldwide.