Published Date: 09/15/19
Dear Paper Pinecone,
I keep hearing about Reggio preschools. What are they and are they any good?
Curious in Chattanooga
Dear Curious in Chattanooga,
There are two things to touch on in your question. First, are Reggio Emilia schools good? Regardless of its philosophy, a school is only as good as its staff. The director and teachers are the ones who will determine your child’s preschool experience so it's essential that you look for high-quality interactions between staff and children.
Now, let’s talk about the Reggio Emilia approach to learning. Its foundation is in Reggio Emilia, Italy and psychologist Loris Malaguzzi. He believed strongly that children are incredibly capable human beings with the ability and desire to construct their own learning and express themselves in countless ways, which came to be known as the Hundred Languages. It is one of may preschool philosophies, which we provide an overview of here.
Schools that implement this philosophy will also use the term ‘social constructivism’, which means that children and teachers are collaborators in the learning process. Children have a role in directing their education and work cooperatively on projects. It’s important to note that I said that children have a role in directing their education – that does not mean it’s a free-for-all without any structure. A strong curriculum and well-crafted lesson plans are core components of high-quality preschools, but students may lead teachers to cover certain topics based on interests in the class. For example, if a teacher finds that many children in the class recently saw The Lion King, there might be a sudden increased interest in lions. The teacher may decide to do a lesson on lions, or Africa, or the plains where lions live. The teacher might discuss different animal habitats and different climates in different parts of the world. She or he might put together a play-based project where students grow plants in different conditions, or work on fine motor skills by using an eye dropper to make rain.
Reggio Emilia is a play-based philosophy emphasizing hands-on learning through all of the senses, which is important because every major early childhood education study has shown that children learn best through play. There are many benefits to the Reggio Emilia approach, which you can read more about here.
There is neither a governing board of Reggio Emilia schools nor specific training a person must go through to teach using this philosophy. Most importantly, every school is unique and every child is unique making it impossible to say if a Reggio Emilia school is a good fit for your family.
Asking the right questions on your preschool tours and seeking out a school that aligns with your values will help ensure both you and your child are happy with the preschool you choose.
Search Paper Pinecone for Reggio Emilia programs near you and good luck with your search.
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