While the traditional method of schooling children involves the teacher as the giver of information, and the children as empty buckets filling up with new ideas, Reggio Emilia approaches it differently. Reggio Emilia sees the child as able to be an active participant in their education, and that they should be led by their interests. Instead of one method of learning, Reggio Emilia believes that children have many ways of expressing themselves and interacting with the world around them.
The Hundred Languages
The essence of the Reggio Emilia philosophy is beautifully stated in the poem written by their founder. A sample of this poem shows that the uniqueness of each child is celebrated:
The child is made of one hundred.
The child has a hundred languages
a hundred hands
a hundred thoughts
a hundred ways of thinking
of playing, of speaking.
-Loris Malaguzzi, founder of the Reggio-Emilia approach to education
Language here does not just mean the spoken word, and there are many ways that children communicate, learn and grow. Reggio Emilia believes that all of these diverse languages should be nurtured by the classroom, and opportunity for different types of learning exploration should be presented by the teacher. Reggio Emilia believes that play is a type of learning, and that by incorporating play the educational model you can appeal to children at a more accessible level. All five senses are emphasized, and the wonder that comes through seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, and smelling the world around them helps children have a lifetime love of learning.
Because children learn in many different ways, and not everyone is able to memorize facts and figures, a Reggio Emilia classroom is setup to facilitate child-led learning. Children are viewed as competent members of the community who should be able to have some say in their own education and learning. Especially in the preschool years, gaining the confidence that comes with child-led learning can set your children up for lifelong success. Because a child doesn’t fit into a set mold, Reggio Emilia leaves space for exploration and imagination in education. The poem goes on to say that the world tries to tell the child that “work and play, reality and fantasy, science and imagination, sky and earth, reason and dream” do not belong together, and that often school tries to fit a child into a predetermined path of learning. By following the child’s lead, they are more engaged and interested—and usually end up teaching the adults a thing or two!
If this child-centered approach sounds like something you would like for your little one, Child Time Inc. has preschool programs in Salt Lake City that employ the philosophy of Reggio Emilia and encourage the wonder and exploration of little ones!