What is the Reggio Emilia Approach?
Philosophy and Approach to Early Childhood Education
The Reggio Emilia philosophy and approach to early childhood education has developed and continues to evolve more than 60 years since a new image of school was envisioned by parents, teachers, and municipal leaders in Reggio Emilia, Italy. Parents, who started and self-managed schools at the end of WWII, continue to participate widely, as do teachers and political leaders, through many avenues within the schools and within the city.
The late Loris Malaguzzi, leader, philosopher, and innovator in education was a young teacher when citizens united to recover from the devastation of war by first making sure the children were prioritized. The men and women of a small village in the outskirts of Reggio Emilia built a school themselves using the debris of war. Intrigued and inspired by what he encountered there, Malaguzzi invested himself for the rest of his life in joining with others to overturn old rules governing education and schooling. Through many years of collective work, a new image of education based on inextricably woven values has become widely known and valued. The Reggio Emilia approach is built upon a solid foundation of connected philosophical principles and extensive experience. Educators in Reggio Emilia have been inspired by many early childhood psychologists and philosophers, such as Dewey, Piaget, Vygotsky, Gardner, Bruner, Bateson, Morin, and Freire.
The Reggio Emilia Approach cannot be considered a method or pre-established curriculum, but rather a deep understanding of theory and community-constructed values that have been and are continuously being translated into early childhood practices. As a result, educational theory and practice in Reggio Emilia is strongly connected.
To learn more about the principles of the Reggio Emilia Approach, see:
How can I learn more about the Reggio Emilia Approach?
Professional Development Initiatives, Study Groups, Conferences, Networking, and More
There are professional development initiatives in North America and in Reggio Emilia for those interested in learning more about the experience of educators in Reggio and those in North America inspired by this philosophy. Visit the NAREA website for information on NAREA Initiatives, the NAREA Exhibit Project, and Study Groups in Reggio Emilia. For information about Reggio-related resources, visit the Resources section of the NAREA website, which includes NAREA and Reggio Children resources as well as articles available for download, and a bibliography of free resources. Those seeking to learn more might find NAREA’s annual winter, summer, and fall conferences to be of particular interest. Each year, the conferences are held in a different community in North America to encounter different regions and different contexts. The conferences generally feature the participation of educators from Reggio Emilia, Italy, and visits to Reggio-inspired schools. Opportunities for small group discussions and networking are maximized for conference participants to build stronger connections with each other in the process of learning. Visit the Conferences page of the NAREA website for more information and the Conference Reflection Videos page to view video reflections of recent conferences. Information about the NAREA Brick by Brick Series, a regional initiative organized by NAREA board and staff members can be found on the NAREA Initiatives page.
How popular is the Reggio Emilia Approach in North America?
Quantifying Popularity is Pretty Tough
Quantifying popularity is a pretty tough thing to do. Data collected by NAREA indicates 2,800 schools for young children in Canada and the U.S. hold memberships or have participated in NAREA professional learning initiatives since 2002. We understand there to be many more Reggio-inspired schools for young children in North America that have not interacted with our organization.
Some measure of popularity could also be gleaned from contacting Reggio Children in Italy to inquire about the rate of study group visitors from North America over the last 30 years.
How can I visit the infant-toddler centers and preschools in Reggio Emilia?
Seeing For One’s Self
It is only possible to visit the municipal infant-toddler centers and preschools of Reggio Emilia through organized study groups. Reggio Children generally schedules at least one study group per year for North American educators and information is posted on Study Groups in Reggio Emilia. Interested North American educators should contact Angela Ferrario, Reggio Children liaison in the U.S. for study groups, 508-473-8001. Angela will send detailed information and registration materials for each study group when it becomes available from Reggio Children. Additionally, Reggio Children generally schedules an annual international study tour that is open to the global community. Visit the Reggio Children website for more information.
Is it possible to become certified as a teacher in the Reggio Emilia Approach?
Certification Does Not Exist
Early childhood educators build their understanding of Reggio Emilia-inspired teaching after formal university education in the field of early childhood education. The municipality of Reggio Emilia, Italy, does not approve of any certifications in the Reggio Emilia Approach (although sometimes unauthorized attempts by individuals and groups to market certifications do occur). Rather, practicing educators are seen as professionals who continuously study and learn throughout their careers, always striving to improve, innovate, research, comprehend, build relationships, and move in a direction that continuously builds more quality and excellence in education.
Are Reggio-inspired schools in North America formally endorsed?
Vast Differences in Reggio-inspired Schools for Young Children in North America and Globally
No. Use of the phrases “Reggio Emilia Inspired” or “Reggio-inspired” or “A Reggio School” and other such phrases are self-determined. Therefore, it is important to note that there are vast differences in Reggio-inspired schools for young children in North America and globally. In truth, there are no “Reggio Emilia Schools” outside the city of Reggio Emilia. Parents and educators might wish to consult the soon-to-be-published booklet by NAREA that includes questions that when posed to schools will give a better understanding of their familiarity and depth of knowledge with the approach.
Does NAREA have training materials on the Reggio Emilia Approach or resources to support new schools?
We continue to observe the expansion and the deepening of this work in many places in North America and globally. In our observation, the work is happening in a strongly grassroots way, led mostly by informal groups of determined educators within local communities who have a capacity to interpret the human and financial resources of the local or regional community.
Permanent professional development that enables educators to more deeply understand children’s knowledge-building processes as well as the role of teachers to continually offer contexts for learning are fundamental in creating coherence between the local school and Reggio Emilia. There are numerous professional development initiatives in North America and in Reggio Emilia for those who are interested in learning about the experience of educators in Reggio and those in North America inspired by this philosophy. Visit NAREA Initiatives, the NAREA Exhibit Project, Professional Development Partnerships, and Study Groups in Reggio Emilia.
Where can I purchase resources about the Reggio Emilia Approach?
Visit the Resources section of the NAREA website for information on NAREA, Reggio Children, and other Reggio-related resources. Resources published by Reggio Children and other Reggio-related resources are available in North America from NAREA.
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