Education

The success of the "Reggio Emilia Approach" in education

Reggio Emilia's preschools have been broadly recognized as one of the "best top ten schools in the world"

The success of the "Reggio Emilia Approach" in education

Claudia Astarita

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During recent years, many preschools around the world have been adopting the so-called "Reggio Emilia Approach", an education method that originated in the town (and surrounding areas) of Reggio Emilia in Italy out of a movement towards progressive and cooperative early childhood education. The first preschools to use this innovative approach were in villages around Reggio Emilia.

In the aftermaths of World War II, parents were looking for new ways of accompanying the intellectual and personal growth of their children, and started to create preschools based on the assumption that learning must appeal to the student in order to be effective and meaningful. Today, most preschools in the town of Reggio Emilia and surrounding areas have adopted the same approach. This does not mean that they are all the same: a basic principle of the Reggio Emilia system is the need to specifically adapt to the different needs of the community. The result is that no preschool looks the same.

Broadly speaking, the Approach revolves around four key principles: children must have some say over what they learn; the senses play a big role in the learning process; children are encouraged to interact with other children and explore the world through material items and relationships; children should be encouraged to always express themselves and be given as many means and opportunities to do so as possible. Further, parental involvement is encouraged, as it helps to fine tune the activities of the preschool to the real needs of the children.

International recognition of the Reggio preschools has been constantly increasing after 1991, when a panel of experts commissioned by Newsweek magazine identified the preschools of Reggio Emilia as one of the "best top ten schools in the world". A year later, a number of prizes were awarded to Reggio Emilia preschools, including the Danish Lego Prize and the Chicago Kohl Foundation Prize. Today, a significant and growing number of leading corporations and institutions adopt the Reggio Emilia Approach for their preschool programs. Among them, Google and the World Bank.

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