The Reggio Emilia Approach
Children are capable of constructing their own learning
The Reggio Emilia approach is unique in its view of the child. In this approach, the image of the child is that of a scientist who, with the right support, is capable of constructing their own learning through investigation and experimentation. At Little Explorers, our teachers respect and trust in children’s innate curiosity and capability to make discoveries and form knowledge about the world around them. We also see our children as social beings whose learning takes place through interactions with other children, adults and materials in their environment.
Learning to learn is the central concept of the Reggio Emilia approach. In a Reggio Emilia inspired programme, learning takes place in the form of children-led exploration and long-term projects where children have opportunities to observe, hypothesise, question, investigate, and discuss to clarify their understanding. Children are encouraged to share their thoughts and ideas and engage in collaborative learning in small groups. Working against the pressure to expose young children to academic concepts too early, the Reggio Emilia approach gives tremendous respect and time to individual learning pace and style. Teachers support children’s exploration by joining them in their search for answers, asking Socratic questions for further understanding, and planning activities and materials based on children’s interests.
Little Explorers’ practice is driven by the following Fundamental Principles of the Reggio Emilia Approach:
Adults as guide and mentor
The Reggio Emilia approach sees teachers and children as partners in learning. Rather than supporting children’s learning through adult led instructions, teachers join children in daily exploration and discoveries. Our teachers spend most of their time observing children, listening to the children’s questions and stories, finding out what interests them and providing them with opportunities to further explore these interests. Our teachers challenge children with ideas that contradict the children’s original hypothesis and ask difficult questions in order to challenge children to delve deeper into exploration, and thus form deeper understanding and knowledge.
The Environment is the Third Teacher
Because children are innately curious about the environment they are in, the environment has tremendous potential to inspire their learning. It is essential to our values at Little Explorers that we create learning spaces wherein children feel safe to explore. You will find our learning spaces filled with natural light, order and softness. Authentic materials and tools are placed to invite interest and creativity and encourage collaboration, communication and exploration. Our play areas are not updated according to a calendar schedule but they are ever-evolving according to the children’s needs and curiosity.
Community Support and Parental Involvement
In the Reggio Emilia approach, not only are teachers and students collaborators in the process of learning. Parents are also viewed as an important contributor to children’s learning. The dialogue between parents and teachers is a vital part of a positive and productive learning environment. Little Explorers strives to create an environment where honest exchanges between parents, teachers, and administrators happen regularly. Parents are invited and encouraged to take part in discussions about school policy, child development, and curriculum planning. Termly community meetings and bimonthly workshops are held on predetermined dates so that parents who wish to participate can make arrangements to do so.
An Emphasis on Documentation
Throughout the learning spaces at Little Explorers, you will find careful displays and documentation of children’s thoughts and progression of thinking. The Reggio Emilia approach emphasises the importance of making children’s thoughts visible. These displays are not only there to show parents, teachers and children their own learning process, but to also act as visual place holders for children’s present ideas and understandings which can be revisited, reconsidered, and reconstructed to form further learning and knowledge
The Hundred Languages of Children
Children are expressive and creative in their thoughts and understanding. While our young children may not have yet mastered verbal language, they are capable of thinking, discovering, and learning in many other different ways. Children communicate and learn through many forms and means of communication, may it be through drawing, dancing, painting, pretend play, or just silly play. At Little Explorers, all children’s languages are valued and appreciated. Hands-on discovery learning are used throughout our programme to allow children to employ all their senses and all their languages in order to learn. Our art atelierista also uses multiple media to engage children in exploring their emotions and learn about themselves as individuals.