The Reggio Emilia approach to education is based on nine principles that inspire and guide teaching practices. The principles include: 1) the image of the child, 2) children’s relationships and interactions within a system, 3) the role of parents, 4) the role of space: amiable schools, 5) teachers and children as partners in learning, 6) not a pre-set curriculum but a process of inviting and sustaining learning, 7) the power of documentation, 8) projects and 9) the many languages of children, the atelier and atelierista. I will use this column, Family Team meetings, documentation throughout the building and parent workshops to share more about the approach. I will start by defining the principles and how they look in our school.
I advocate that the image of the child is the most important principle. Reggio educator Carlina Rinaldi defines it by stating that “the child is a producer of culture, values, and rights, competent in learning and competent in communicating with all the hundred languages.” Let’s unpack this. Image of the child is a concept that powers all areas of the school community. It means that:
- We view children in a strength model, full of potential, not empty vessels for teachers to fill. (50)
- We create an environment that welcomes children with a sense of security and acceptance. (51)
- Children learn in relationship with the school environment and cultural context we create. (51)
Evidence of our Image of the Child can be found throughout the building. For example each Discovery prepares an identity panel. Identity panels are permanent displays constructed in different ways, but all include photographs of each child and their names. It may seem simple, but when you walk into a classroom and see pictures of yourself and your friends, it sends a message that who you are is important. For early writers these identity boards also double as references for recording friends’ names and message writing.
Discovery C’s identity panel
Image of the Child suggests we honor who children are and strive to build relationships with them to inform teaching practices. The summer provocation asked children to think about a school-wide study topic: Transforming Communities. Children responded with work including photographs, paintings, posters, videos and writing. Each classroom is busy using these provocations to get to know children and uncover possible yearlong projects. They indicate how your child learns, thinks and their interests. A big thank you to families for supporting the provocation!
Owen’s provocation outside Discovery F
To learn more about the Reggio Emilia principles, check out the text Bambini: The Italian Approach to Infant/Toddler Care cited above. You can also learn more through parent workshops currently being planned. Please fill out this quick survey to gauge interest in topics and most convenient times!