What is the Reggio Emilia Approach?

For many parents of preschool-aged children, the beginning of the school years can be scary. When your child starts going to school, it means less parent involvement in day to day learning, and more teacher-structured lessons; less play, and more work. But a growing form of early childhood education, called the Reggio Emilia approach, is turning heads with its unique take on teaching– one which makes parents, teachers, and children equal shareholders in the learning initiative.

The Reggio approach focuses on the educational importance of community and free inquiry as its primary values.

Parents and teachers will agree: it's never too soon to start giving your child a nose for knowledge and the tools to investigate the world.

Now who wants to go back to school?

Friday, April 19

A farewell Reggio

Dinner in the piazza

Below are some pictures of the Remida recycling centre, that does not mean to say everything here is recycled but donated from companies that no longer had use for them. They have been given the chance of a new life, through the minds and imaginations of Reggio children. A similar philosophy to scrap stores in the UK? Find your local scrap store here


Remida Recycling Centre

Cotton reels.

It is amazing what can be constructed with material considered as rubbish.

It's all about the presentation

One green bottle.

And not an egg in sight.
It has been an intense and somewhat emotional week. In concluding, Amelia Gambetti said, 'many people leave Reggio Emilia with more questions than when they arrived', she continued 'this is a good thing, as it means the door is left open for further communication and connection to the Reggio family.' It is just that, a family who wishes to provide their children a 'special pocket' which they can dip into in order to deal with whatever life throws at them. In the meantime, they promised to continue to tell the story of what they were doing in Reggio Emilia schools, to talk about the processes and share dreams. 

Lorris Malaguzzi once described those working in schools as 'Professionals in the art of Wonder' and it is with wonder that I leave Reggio Emilia, and a deep gratitude to all those that have shared with us. 
I hope together we can continue to grow on this shared journey filled with challenges and joy. 

We had a short time to take in some other areas that Reggio is well know for. 
Here are some pictures from the Cheese factory.

The Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese factory, can you smell it?

It takes 16 litres (4.23 gallons) of milk to make 1 kilo of cheese!
And finally, Children's thoughts on wishes and what/who can have them...

'Even a line can wish, it wishes to be drawn one day, to be given life' (Arianna 6.10 years)

Wednesday, April 17

"Do not train children to learning by force and harshness, but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each." Plato

On visiting two Reggio Emilia schools in the past 24 hours, I cannot put it into words better than Plato!

One school was a converted greenhouse the other, a house of a director that was taken over by a group of passionate women. The women managed to gain entry into the house, when in followed a beautiful butterfly, shortly afterwards it became a school and forty years later a butterfly remains the school emblem.

One of many features in the school outdoor space
Materials for the children to engage with

We watched children ages 3-5 years play, investigate, debate, record and thoroughly enjoy what they were doing.

A pair of 4 year old children were observing a tree coming into bloom, this tree had been under their surveillance for months!  One suggested that the leaves of the tree grew at night, as it was more humid at night while the other argued that the leaves grew at night, as that was when magic could take place. The teacher was ready to receive all theories and allowed each child to put forward their case to back up their opinion. If necessary they would return to the others in the class to investigate further, in this case it was not necessary.

A wonderful negotiation to witness, despite not having an understanding of the language directly. With the hundred languages of children, when we really listen, we are open to understand on a new level.

The Hundred Languages

The child is made of one hundred.

The child hasa hundred languages

a hundred handsa hundred thoughts

a hundred ways of thinkingof playing, of speaking.

A hundred.
Always a hundred

ways of listeningof marveling, of loving

a hundred joysfor singing and understanding

a hundred worldsto discover

a hundred worldsto invent

a hundred worldsto dream.

The child has

a hundred languages(and a hundred hundred hundred more)

but they steal ninety-nine.The school and the culture

separate the head from the body.They tell the child:

to think without handsto do without head
to listen and not to speakto understand without joy
to love and to marvelonly at Easter and at Christmas.

They tell the child:

to discover the world already thereand of the hundred

they steal ninety-nine.

They tell the child:

that work and play reality and fantasy

science and imagination sky and earth
reason and dream are things
that do not belong together.

And thus they tell the childthat the hundred is not there.

The child says:
No way. The hundred is there.

-Loris Malaguzzi
Founder of the Reggio Emilia Approach

Tuesday, April 16

The Image of the Child

Today's theme the image of the child, is possibly the root of the Reggio approach.

James Hillman, author of 'Politics of Beauty' said

"Each life is formed by its unique image, an image that is the essence of that life and calls it to a destiny."

In Reggio, they view the child in the womb as an already active and unique person, each with their own stamp of uniqueness; a potential to reveal something to the world that has never been seen before. It is therefore the Schools responsibility to give value to these blueprints entering through their doors. 

Children hold a natural curiosity and enjoy a often risky interrogation of the surroundings they find themselves in. In Italian they say that they are 'unbalanced towards challenge' meaning they lean towards challenge. This challenging being both to their environment and themselves. 

As educators we can hypothesis about how the children may respond to situations presented to them, however, through listening to the children they can show us the extraordinary in the ordinary. 

Together we have been doing a lot of wondering (and also wandering, reflecting and discussing), a question that came up, which would be interesting to get thoughts on...

Does the word 'allow' provoke a hierarchy? 

We allow children to do certain things and does this work both ways?

On another note, I've got myself a new set a wheels but she doesn't have a name yet, suggestions welcome!

Name that bike!


Monday, April 15

"No matter where you come from, you are no stranger here" Primo Levi

International Centre Loris Malaguzzi

The above quote was taken from a Reggio Pre-school and it was indeed a very warm welcome to Reggio today in more ways than one. Reggio Emilia is know to locals as 'the city of people' and today we started to get a sense of the strong community that is behind the world famous approach. What an inspiration to be amongst 400 practitioners and educators from over 40 countries, sitting together in the International Centre Loris Malaguzzi Auditorium. Loris Malaguzzi for those unfamiliar, was a 25 year old teacher with an idea that still inspires today, the founder of the Reggio Emila approach to learning.

The entrance to the International Centre Loris Malaguzzi

There was so much to take in today but I shall try to give you a flavour of some of the things that were discussed:-

  • Schools are known referred to as 'Building sites' (no, not the temporary home while the classrooms are being built) a place upon which to build knowledge, explore, take risks and make mistakes. 
  • The child is not seen as a weak subject nor a school as a home, the child is part of planning and preparing for the days activities and a school is seen as the environment for the child to be astonished, to wonder and experience the unexpected. 
  • The approach is developed through collaborations with many different people and resources. One of my favourites was the Ateliers, or what we may refer to as Artists, this includes all areas of learning, the cooks for example are the ateliers of taste and flavour.
  • It is a journey that started 50 years ago but they still experience the daily problems that we all experience, however, they have the shared attitude, never to give up!

Sadly, we were unable to take photographs inside the International Centre nor will we be able to take photos in the Pre-Schools. Perhaps one day you may be able to visit them yourself but in the meantime I hope this at least gives some food for thought, ideas to try and a gentle push in the direction of the Reggio Emilia approach to learning.

Sunday, April 14

A picture speaks a thousand words, here's a few thousand words...

Considering we haven't as yet officially started the programme, it has been a very busy day getting to know the town, and I have the aching legs to prove it, but it was worth every step. We were taken on a tour of the town by a group of kind volunteers, proud to show us around their town, and what better place to start than in the theatre. The group expanded to nearly 400 teachers and educators who have travelled from all around the world to be here. I have connected with people from America, Australia, Turkey, Belgium (and Derby)! Here is a glimpse of where it all happens.

The only theatre curtain in the world designed and made by Children.

A great spot to watch both children and adults dare each other to risk the walk through the fountain, they didn't all make it out dry!


This sculpture depicts the struggle both during and after WWII, which the people of Reggio Emilia went through before adopting there unique and inspiring approach to learning. Look carefully at the faces.

Signing off at 27°