The child has a hundred languages. –Loris Malaguzzi, founder Reggio Emilia Approach
Not often mentioned but essential to what we do every day at the Art Center is our foundation in the Reggio Emila approach to education. The following article is adapted from the website for the North American Reggio Emilia Alliance, an organization that supports educators using this approach.
The Reggio Emilia philosophy and approach to early childhood education has developed and continues to evolve as a result of over forty years of experience within a system of municipal infant-toddler centers and preschools in Reggio Emilia, Italy. Parents, who started the schools in the 1940s, continue to participate to ensure the schools reflect the values of the community.
From the beginning, the late Loris Malaguzzi, leader, philosopher and innovator in education, who was then a young teacher, guided and directed the energies of those parents and several teachers. Through many years of work with them, he developed an education based on relationship, which has become widely known and valued.
This philosophy and approach does not refer to a specific early childhood method or set curriculum, but rather a deep knowledge in theory and community-constructed values that have been and are continuously being translated into high quality early childhood practices.
The Reggio educators’ intention in sharing their experience with educators around the world is to encourage others to understand their own values regarding childhood, education, and community. Reggio educators hope to promote dialogue among educators, so that they will come to understand their own identity as a school community. Through this process, educators can then ensure that the learning and relationships of children, teachers, and parents within their school community reflect their shared values.
Educators in Reggio believe that children have the right and the ability to express their thinking, theories, ideas, learning, and emotions in many ways. Therefore, Reggio educators provide children with a wide range of materials and media and welcome a diversity of experiences, so that children encounter many avenues for thinking, revising, constructing, negotiating, developing, and symbolically expressing their thoughts and feelings.
In this way, teachers, parents, and children can better understand each other. These languages can include drawing, paint, clay, wire, natural and recycled materials, light and shadow, dramatic play, music, and dance. They can also include expression with words through metaphors, stories, or poems of the children’s interpretations and reflections about their experiences.
In fact, there is not a separation between what it is considered traditionally artistic expression and academic education in the schools of Reggio Emilia. All are considered part of the one hundred and more languages of learning.
Source: Adapted from North American Reggio Emilia Alliance (NAREA) website, http://reggioalliance.org/, accessed 3/9/15.