What is the Reggio Emilia Approach?

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  • Written By: S. Zaimov
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 11 August 2019
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The Reggio Emilia approach is a form of alternative education which focuses on teaching children through a strong sense of community. It is usually applied to young students in pre-school and primary school grades. This philosophy proposes interactive methods of teaching, which often involve the parents, educators and environment in a variety of ways.

This approach originated in the Italian city of Reggio Emilia after World War II. At that time, some of the schools in the city rejected the traditional approach of teaching children through strict discipline and guidelines, and adopted a more flexible method. Gradually, this new way gained popularity around the world because it encourages child development through exploration of interests and building relationships with others.

One of the key elements of the Reggio Emilia approach is the school environment. Small and colorless classrooms are thought to be unproductive and limiting to a child’s imagination. This philosophy suggests lessons be held in much bigger rooms with plenty of light, space and real plants. The idea behind the principle is to stimulate a student’s sense of exploration from an early stage. Some schools following the Reggio Emilia approach try to limit the barriers between classrooms to encourage interaction between students.


Parents and friends are very important to this alternative form of education. The children’s development is often seen as the responsibility of the entire community. Parents are strongly encouraged to assist their children, not only with homework, but also by being involved in the child's school activities. The Reggio Emilia approach places a great value on parental input, and most school boards hold open meetings on issues like school curriculum and policy.

A major innovation brought about by this type of philosophy is the role of educators. Learning material is typically designed to enhance the teachers’ own education, to allow them to learn along with their students. Many of these teaching methods include learning from physical experience, such as touching, hearing or seeing. Examinations, such as achievement tests, are often limited and a greater focus is put on helping the children to comprehend the practical ways they can use what they are learning.

Another important aspect of the Reggio Emilia approach is that it gives children some control over the way they learn things. Parents and teachers are often instructed to find ways to incorporate individual student interests into a child's learning process. Children are also motivated to express themselves through various means, such as writing, drawing and play-acting. These works are often shared, and even revised, by their peers, to encourage collective participation.


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Post 3

@feruze-- Both my children went to schools who use the Reggio Emilia approach to curriculum and I highly recommend it. It does cost more than regular preschools but if you don't want to send your child to a traditional kindergarten or preschool, you will have to pay more regardless of what kind it is. But if cost is an issue, you might want to do your research and speak to the schools about it before making a decision.

When I first signed up my older son to a Reggio Emilia schools, I wasn't really sure what we were getting into. But the school gives parents many opportunities to take part in activities. And since parents make up part of the council who makes decisions for the schools program and curriculum, it didn't take long for me and my son to adapt. My younger daughter also went to the same preschool.

Post 2

@feruze-- I believe there is a North American Reggio Emilia Alliance. I'm sure that you would be able to locate schools that use this approach in your area through them.

My sister lives in Arizona and she does send her son to a preschool in Tucson that uses the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education. There might be one or two other schools in Arizona that follow the approach. Unfortunately, it's not as common as I think it should be.

It really is a great method for developing kids' imagination and problem-solving skills. I've seen my nephew's art projects that he did at his preschool during the holidays and they are so cool! My sister says that the school has a large art studio and playground. And classrooms interact with each other so kids are basically friends with the entire school, not just their class.

Post 1

I had never heard of the Reggio Emilia approach to learning before but it sounds amazing. I went to schools with traditional teaching methods my whole life. My elementary education was extremely strict, completely based on rules. My teachers thought that learning meant memorization. The classroom settings were boring and unimaginative.

My daughter is getting ready to start kindergarten and I would really like her to go to a kindergarten and pre-school that utilizes the Reggio Emilia approach. I think it will be a fantastic way to start her educational life. And she is such an energetic and intelligent child. She loves discovery, art and has a great imagination. I don't want to limit her development by sending

her to traditional schools.

Are schools who use the Reggio Emilia approach common in the US? I live in Arizona, how can I find out which schools in Arizona offer this kind of alternative teaching methods? And what are the costs like?

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