Development of the Reggio Emilia Approach

With thinking similar to that of the Bank Street approach, the Reggio educators
consider their work "an educational experience that consists of practice and careful
reflection that is continuously readjusted" (Gandini, 1993, p. 13). Like so many ECE
professionals, the Reggio educators have been influenced by the ideas of Dewey,
Piaget, Vygotsky, and the latest research in child development. A look at how the
Reggio educators describe children will tell you much about their approach. "All
children have preparedness, potential, curiosity and interest in constructing their
learning, in engaging in social interaction, and in negotiating with everything the
environment brings to them". With that image of children, it is not surprising that the
Reggio approach studies children as individuals and responds to them appropriately.

Reggio Curriculum

Curriculum at Reggio is the emergent approach. The educators develop general
goals and predict children's responses to activities and projects so that they can
prepare the environment. Then the children take over and the curriculum emerges.
Much of the curriculum at Reggio takes the form of projects, and those projects may
come from children or teachers. Sometimes, an event or a problem may result in a
project, such as a study of shoes that occurred when a child came to school with a
new pair of shoes. The children were curious about how shoes were made and
wanted to investigate the materials of shoes. Projects are actually intensive
constructions of knowledge—studies conducted by children guided by adults or with
adult resources. Projects can vary in length from a few days to several months. To
get a sense of the richness of the Reggio emergent curriculum and the project
approach, listen to Carlina Rinaldi, a pedagogista (educational advisor) at the school:


Reggio Emilia Approach

This project begins at the end of a school year for 4- and 5-year-olds. The teachers
talked with the children about remembering their vacation and holiday experiences.
The children and parents agreed to take along on their vacations a box with small
compartments in which a child could save treasures. "Every fragment, every piece
collected would become a memento of an experience imbued with a sense of
discovery and emotion" (Edwards, Gandini, & Forman, 1995, p. 108).

In the fall, the teachers began with questions about the holidays, much like teachers
do in U.S. schools. They asked, "What did your eyes see?" "What did your ears
hear?" One child, Gabriele, shared an experience that prompted an adventure for the
children and adults alike. He responded to the teachers' questions about his holiday:
"We walked through a narrow long street, called `the gut,' where one store is next to
another and where in the evening it is full of people. There are people who go up,
and people who walk down. You cannot see anything, you can only see a crowd of
legs, arms, and heads".

The idea of "crowd" caught the teachers' attention and their questions prompted rich
meanings from the children. "The teachers immediately apprehended an unusual
excitement and potential in the word". Listen to some of the children's thinking about
crowds:


Nicola: It is a bunch of people all attached and close to one another.

Luca: There are people who jump on you and push you.

Ivano: It is a bunch of people all bunched up together just like when they go to pay
taxes.


The concept of crowd became the focus of a series of teacher conversations,
children's conversations, and then an explosion of activity—drawings, walks in the
city, more drawings, and paintings. The curriculum truly emerged from Gabriele and
the children's responses to his description of a crowd. From there, the children could
decide to study crowds as a project. Toddlers' classrooms are emergent curriculum
and kindergarten children engage in the project approach.

Curricular Supports at Reggio

There are several completely unique features of the Reggio Emilia program that
deserve description. First, in addition to teachers and many parent participants, there
is a teacher trained in visual arts who is called the atelierista. There is also a special
space—a studio or workshop—called the atelier. Everyone (adults and children) uses
the tools and materials of the atelier.

A second feature is the environment which is often called the "third teacher." Every
inch of space is designed and used to respond to the children. The space and
furnishings go beyond "child friendly to a living area in which children create their
worlds and stories" (Wurm, 2005, p. 35).

The third unique feature of the program is the extensive documentation of children's
thinking, discussions, work, and progress that is collected and used. The
documentation takes the form of photographs, tape recordings, and other records.
The Reggio educators value the documentation as a way to understand the children
better and a way to assess their own work as educators. At the same time, the
process of collecting documentation communicates to children that their work and
their efforts are valued. In addition to curriculum, routines and guidance strategies
contribute so much to children's learning. In Reggio, children are quite independent
when it comes to following routines such as using the bathroom. Like so many of their
learning decisions, it is up to the children to determine whether they need help and
whether they want to be alone or have company (Wurm, 2005).
This is more information about the Reggio Emilia Approach.  
While I do not incorporate everything, there are many aspects
that I do incorporate.
This inforamtion was gathered from www.education.com