What is the Reggio Emilia Approach and Why Does it Matter?

The Reggio Emilia Approach is a core philosophy of preschool education which gives advocacy to children within the classroom. At Riverside Magnet School, we take a Reggio Emilia inspired approach to learning. We celebrate the learning process with reflection, documentation, and utter respect for each child’s individuality. By fostering a sense of wonder and curiosity in each child, we cultivate a lifetime of learning, starting at just three years old. The Reggio Emilia approach is diplomatic, egalitarian, and fair – and its value is proven in the modern world to enrich children’s learning experiences and family’s lives.

The Reggio Emilia Approach originated in Northern Italy after World War II. It was developed by the psychologist Loris Malaguzzi, in partnership with parents in the villages around the Reggio Emilia area. They sought to offer children a new, self-directed way of learning on the premise that people build a sense of individuality in early development. Parents built new, extraordinary schools for their children, hoping to ensure a more democratic society for their future, beginning with young children’s critical thinking and collaboration skills. The first “Reggio Emilia” approach school opened in 1963, and by the late 1970s, about half the city’s toddlers and preschoolers were learning in this style. Following a local conference in 1987 by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, interest in this groundbreaking educational model spread widely, and American teachers began to adapt Reggio Emilia methods. Since 1991, the child-directed curriculum of Reggio Emilia has been hailed in the USA as an exemplary model of early childhood education.

In the Reggio Emilia approach, children are seen as knowledge bearers and researchers. Emphasis is put on the child’s “voice” – not necessarily literally – and teachers are encouraged to listen and allow children the time and space to express themselves and engage with a variety of projects. According to the Reggio Emilia approach, children possess and are able to utilize “hundreds of languages” – from sculpting to dramatic play, to writing, drawing and building. These languages are expressed via experience: through moving, touching, listening and observing, and through developing relationships with other children and the school environment. Reggio Emilia posits that children need to be offered innumerable opportunities to share and develop their individual potential in the classroom. At Riverside Magnet school, children work creatively and explore a variety of materials – offering those opportunities for exploration and expression that are so valuable to young minds.

The power of play is embraced with the Reggio Emilia approach: it is seen as an intentional and critical part of learning, which gives children autonomy and confidence. In this child-directed learning, teachers take the role of co-learners, partners, guides and nurturers, researchers, documenters, and as the child’s advocate. The school environment is considered to be the “third teacher.” Teachers organize the space so that there may be blended play: with individual, small and large group activities, as well as child-directed exploration and teacher-initiated activities. Parents are integral to the classroom and are always welcome and at the center of all learning. Making the right choice on education style for your toddler can be challenging, but choosing a magnet school that is all-inclusive and democratic, like Riverside Magnet School, will make both you and your little one feel most comfortable and at home.

At Riverside Magnet School, a leading Reggio magnet school in Connecticut, we strive to create a balanced community, honoring the individual agency of young children, while caring for them and guiding them through an enriching learning process. Our community is one of respect and responsibility, between children, teachers and parents. We create environments and opportunities in response to children’s interests. Friendly learning is one of our core values, and we offer a variety of stimulating environments (both outdoor and indoor) for children, as well as community areas for families. Our warm, light-filled space gives children the best opportunity to exercise those many expressive languages, and encourages individualized development and bond-making with others. Riverside Magnet School demonstrates how a Reggio Emilia approach can make a positive difference in your child’s sense of self, and overall early childhood education.

Learn more about the magnet schools at Goodwin College. Sign up to attend a parent information session here or apply today!