A Reggio-Inspired Approach to Education in the Junior School Early Years

In the Prem Junior School Early Years, we draw inspiration from the pedagogical principle and practices of the Reggio Emilia approach. In this article I would like to provide you with a little bit of information about this approach, what it entails, and what it means for our youngest students’ educational experience. 

The Reggio Emilia approach, founded by Loris Malaguzzi in the city of Reggio Emilia, Italy, is held in high esteem by the Early Childhood community. The philosophy of the Reggio approach aligns virtually seamlessly with that of the Primary Years Programme. Both approaches to education call for students to have a high degree of agency over their learning experiences. The teacher, rather than being an omniscient figure, works in partnership with their students, helping to facilitate and support students’ learning processes. The role of the teacher is to provide responsive and engaging learning experiences which aim to extend, consolidate or confront children’s ideas. In this respect, as Reggio-inspired educators, our teachers shift their attention from solely standards and content, to valuing, including and responding to children’s ideas, interests and evolving theories.

One key idea that comes from the Reggio Emilia approach is that of ‘the image of the child.’ The Reggio approach to education supports the idea that we should trust our kids and know that they are infinitely capable. Rather than being empty vessels needing to be filled with information that comes from adults, Reggio philosophy holds that our children are born with innate abilities to engage with their environment, make connections, and forge meaningful relationships. In this way, we ask our educators to possess a strong image of our children, to see each child as uniquely competent and able.

Another key idea of a Reggio approach is The Hundred Languages of Children. The idea here is that children possess an infinite number of ways to perceive the world and an infinite number of ways to express themselves. Traditional educational models don’t always honour this notion, and through their top-down approach, limit the way our children perceive and interact in the world. The Reggio approach imparts to educators that our role in working with young learners is much more of a partnership, than it is the traditional hierarchical relationship, whereby the teacher transmits knowledge down to the student. Rather, the Reggio approach holds that as educators, our role is to listen to children, to understand what they already know, to ask them open-ended questions, and to facilitate their interactions with the environment and their peers. In this way we can help our students to construct meaning and to have the freedom to represent their understanding of the world in the way that makes the most sense to them.  

This approach was very evident in the Early Years Outdoor Atelier on Wednesday morning as our EY2 students experimented, created and expressed themselves using a variety of open ended materials that had been intentionally placed by Ajarn Taura to provoke curiosity and experimentation to further your understanding of the idea behind a Reggio-inspired approach, I have included a poem by the psychologist Loris Malaguzzi who was the originator of the Reggio Emilia approach. 

 

Justin Jarman,

Junior School Principal

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