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What Does it Mean to be Reggio-Inspired?

Updated: May 9, 2021

We are over-the-moon excited to offer a Reggio-Inspired Preschool and Junior Kindergarten Program to our hometown of Cochrane. Not sure what all the fuss is about or what makes us different from traditional early learning programs? We are so glad you asked! Let us explain….

The Reggio Emilia approach was first developed after the conclusion of World War II in Northern Italy by the incredible visionary Loris Malaguzzi. In collaboration with a group of parents from a village in the Reggio Emilia region, Loris sought out to develop an innovative new approach to early learning that demonstrated their respect for children as learners. Together they built new schools and constructed a powerful teaching philosophy that promoted child-centred activities and allowed for self-directed learning, which further created authentic opportunities for children to develop their sense of individuality and creative self-expression, as well as deepen their understanding of the world around them.

A key principle of the Reggio Emilia philosophy is referred to as “The Hundred Languages of Children.” This principle promotes the idea that children naturally engage with the world by means of their five senses, and further demonstrate their capabilities as unique learners by expressing themselves and their understandings in a hundred different ways . Driven by their curiosities, which lead children to explore through play, art, music, movement, and social interactions, children exist in a continuous exchange, or ever-present feed-back loop, with the world around them and build upon their previous understandings of themselves, their communities, and the natural world nearly every moment of each new day. Recognizing that all students learn and demonstrate their learning in different ways, the Emilio Reggio approach advocates for “a hundred different” opportunities for children to authentically explore and connect to the natural world while spending time within the nurturing environment of the classroom, and simultaneously promotes engaging activities that tap into each child’s infinite potential for growth and understanding. These opportunities are created through the presentation of realistic sensory, art and building materials that invite children to eagerly participate in self-directed explorations - in other words, learning! Through actions such as touching, manipulating, stacking, observing, sharing, writing, painting, and joyfully playing, children engage in acts of creative self-expression and develop their identity as capable learners.

(Wooden Sensory Scoops and Tools from: @awandco, Elm and Otter Wooden Acorn Sorting Set from: @normanandjules, "Counting with Barefoot Critters," by Teagan White from: @greatthingsinstore)

At Small But Mighty Preschool, our teachers and staff carry forward the Reggio Emilia belief that all children are bright and resourceful learners who bring their unique experiences, perspectives and strengths to the classroom while seeking engaging learning activities to support their personal growth. Through the understanding that self-directed, experiential learning inspires children to ask questions and seek answers, thus creating space for the development of agency, self-responsibility and self-confidence, teachers take on the role of architects of the classroom environment. The design of the classroom, referred to as “The Third Teacher” in the Reggio Emilia approach which signifies its importance, is carefully constructed to welcome children to participate in their learning. Similarly, learning provocations (open-ended activities), are designed to spark curiosity and encourage children to explore their interests while thinking both analytically and creatively. Once alongside children in the classroom, our teachers view themselves as responsive and nurturing “co-learners,” who facilitate activities, ask thought-provoking questions, document learning, support collaboration and positive communication, and observe the students’ points of interest which then inform the direction of our curriculum planning.

At its core, Reggio-inspired preschool programming is an inquiry-based model of education that champions all children in their early learning journey by introducing them to engaging and creative activities that celebrate self-expression and student-led discovery. It allows for a classroom environment, and preschool experience, that is both exciting for students and teachers alike and builds the foundation for a life-long love of learning.

Interested in learning more? Contact us here!

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