The Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education is acclaimed for so many reasons. In this alternative philosophy, children are situated at the center of learning. Reggio Emilia communities regard children differently than traditional educational systems, even from the very first day at school. Even at two or three years of age, children are welcomed into school as capable individuals with existing talent and ability. Traditional educational approaches, on the other hand, may perceive children coming to school as prepared only with empty minds to be filled. We say Reggio Emilia “communities” here instead of “classrooms” or “teachers” because Reggio Emilia learning environments branch beyond one room or one instructor. Reggio Emilia schools embrace the environment and its constituents as part of each child’s learning experience. If you are interested in an “alternative” educational method, and want deeper involvement in your child’s education, a Reggio Emilia school may be a good fit for your family.
With Reggio Emilia, parents are integrated into their child’s learning on a daily basis, much more than any other alternative elementary education style like Montessori or Waldorf. At a Reggio Emilia school such as Riverside Magnet in Connecticut, there are various opportunities for family involvement and community building.
As Riverside Magnet School principal Dr. Jasdeep Singh states, “The Reggio Emilia approach, magnet school setting, and current practices… provide children with a student-led environment and promote family connections.” Dr. Singh deeply believes in the holistic approach that Riverside offers families. Riverside Magnet’s guiding principles clearly define the roles of all partners in a Reggio Emilia education: children, parents, teachers, and the environment. Here, children are seen as protagonists, collaborators, and communicators. Teachers take on roles as nurturers, guides, and researchers. Parents are partners. The environment is the “third teacher,” and documentation is the communication method by which adults and children understand one’s progress. This total community effort to support the children relies on cooperation, and is a big reason why integrating parents is so important at Riverside Magnet School and within the Reggio Emilia approach.
As a Reggio magnet school, Riverside offers an after-school Studio program that acts as an extension of the Reggio classroom with art and exploratory activities. Parents are encouraged to volunteer during classroom or Studio hours to become more intimately involved in their child’s education. Additionally, parents can socialize and learn about early childhood topics together with our Parent Book Club, a dialogue that happens three times annually. For parents who want to contribute further time and vision, they may join Riverside Magnet’s Family Community Council, which meets monthly to discuss ideas to sustain a vibrant community and to help direct the future of the school. Reggio Emilia parent involvement, as we can see from these examples, is a fundamental value of this educational approach. Here, parents are seen as partners who participate actively in a child’s educational experience.
Parents, after all, provide the ultimate welfare of students, and are therefore granted total respect by Reggio Emilia instructors as the child’s first teacher. Reggio Emilia parent involvement also bridges the gap between school and home, and is key in encouraging well-rounded learning and positive child development. With so many interactive opportunities for parents, Riverside Magnet School offers ample advice in how to embrace Reggio Emilia in all aspects of family life.
Reggio magnet schools like Riverside aim to captivate children and parents alike with beautiful, creative environments. Various classrooms, indoor and outdoor spaces, studios with art supplies, musical instruments, and other tactile opportunities allow for children to follow the impulses of their senses. Education.com says that the reason Reggio Emilia schools focus so heavily on design is message-focused: the school environment should convey harmony and pleasure in learning. By adapting some of these environmental qualities in the home, Reggio parents can truly integrate their child’s learning experiences into everyday life and support the teachers’ efforts.
Reggio-inspired home environments can be creative art-making centers and reading corners, material-based exploration, and cozy and calming tents that are simple and fun to build and enjoy with your little ones. As Loris Malaguzzi, the founder of the Reggio Emilia technique, said, “Space has to be a sort of aquarium that mirrors the ideas, values, attitudes, and culture of the people who live within it.” To support your child’s Reggio Emilia education, try thinking about your entire home environment as a space for learning!
Reggio Emilia parent involvement operates on information sharing, clear communication, cooperation, and partnership. If you are looking for a participatory educational experience – one in which you can engage with your youngster, teachers, and other parents – Riverside Magnet School may be the right place to start your child’s educational path. To learn more, sign up for a parent information session or apply today!