Monday, November 3, 2014

Learning Environment as the Third Educator

The Reggio Emilia approach is about having children seen as competent, resourceful, curious, imaginative, inventive and to possess a desire to interact and communicate with others. The environment invites learners to explore and discover on their own as teachers and parents observe and document the process.

The ’Reggio’ vision of the child as a competent learner has produced a strong child-directed curriculum model. The curriculum has purposive progression but not scope and sequence. Teachers follow the children’s interests and do not provide focused instruction in reading and writing. The Reggio approach has a strong belief that children learn through interaction with others, including parents, staff and peers in a friendly learning environment. The main concepts include:
  • The child as an active participant in learning.
    Learners are allowed to follow their own interests.
  • The significance of environment. The environment of the school is seen as the third educator, after the teacher and the parent.
  • The teacher, parent, and child as collaborators in the process of learning.
    The Reggio approach views the parent as an essential resource for their child’s learning.
  • Making learning visible. Teachers use a variety of documentation methods, such as cameras, digital recorders, and journals, to track children’s thoughts and ideas as they play together or work with materials.
Reggio approach is not a formal model with defined methods (such as Waldorf and Montessori), teacher certification standards and accreditation processes. But rather, the educators in Reggio Emilia speak of their evolving "experience" and see themselves as a provocation and reference point, a way of engaging in dialogue starting from a strong and rich vision of the child. In all of these settings, documentation was explored as a means of promoting parent and teacher understanding of children’s learning and development.

The ’Reggio Emilia’ approach was founded by Loris Malaguzzi (1920-1994), at a city in northern Italy called Reggio Emilia. The ’Reggio’ approach was developed for municipal child-care and education programs serving children below six.  Reggio Emilia approach is now expanding across K-12 especially the Reggio influence on the design of the learning environment.

Want to learn more about Reggio Emilia?