The Reggio Emilia Approach is an educational philosophy focused on early childhood education. It emphasizes the importance of a child’s environment, self-directed learning, and collaboration between children, parents, and teachers. Established in the Italian city of Reggio Emilia, this approach is characterized by its innovative ways of engaging children through creativity, exploration, and social interaction.

Key Takeaways

  1. The Reggio Emilia Approach emphasizes the importance of the physical environment as a “third teacher,” promoting creativity, curiosity, and learning through a highly intentional and aesthetically pleasing setup.
  2. This approach values the child as a strong, capable, and resourceful individual, with their own interests, skills, and ideas. Learning is a collaborative process between the child, their peers, and educators, evolving around project-based and open-ended activities.
  3. Documentation and reflection play a crucial role in the Reggio Emilia Approach, as educators and children both observe, record, and discuss their experiences and development. This ongoing process allows for the assessment and adaptation of activities to meet the needs and interests of each child.


The Reggio Emilia Approach is important in the realm of parenting and early childhood education because it offers an innovative and holistic methodology that places the child at the center of their own learning experience.

Developed by educators in Italy after World War II, this approach focuses on fostering creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration by encouraging children to explore their environment and express their ideas through self-directed, hands-on activities.

By recognizing the unique capabilities and potential of each child, the Reggio Emilia Approach emphasizes the importance of strong relationships among children, parents, and educators, working together to co-construct knowledge.

This approach not only promotes the development of essential life skills but also instills a lifelong love for learning in children, contributing to their overall well-being and success in their future endeavors.


The Reggio Emilia Approach, originating from the town of Reggio Emilia in Italy, is an educational philosophy that emphasizes the importance of creativity, collaboration, and child-driven learning. The purpose of this approach is to foster a supportive and engaging environment where children can express themselves freely, explore their interests, and develop their full potential.

By treating children as capable and resourceful individuals, the Reggio Emilia Approach encourages educators and parents to build upon the natural curiosity of young minds, thus promoting lifelong problem-solving skills and a love for learning. Central to this approach is the idea of co-constructing knowledge, where children, educators, and the environment work together to create a holistic learning experience.

Projects and activities are designed based on the emergent interests and ideas of children, ensuring that learning is meaningful, authentic, and relatable. Elements such as open classrooms, hands-on materials, community involvement, and documentation of learning all contribute to fostering a sense of belonging and shared understanding in a Reggio-inspired setting.

The environment is regarded as the “third teacher,” creating a thoughtfully designed space that stimulates the senses, supports collaboration, and encourages the natural growth of knowledge. By incorporating the Reggio Emilia Approach into their parenting or teaching practices, adults highlight the importance of children’s voices and unique contributions, laying the foundation for a more empathetic and interconnected world.

Examples of Reggio Emilia Approach

The Reggio Emilia Approach is an educational philosophy that focuses on child-centered, experiential learning in a natural and nurturing environment. Here are three real-world examples of the Reggio Emilia Approach in action:

Reggio Children Loris Malaguzzi Center (Reggio Emilia, Italy): The original and most well-known example of the Reggio Emilia Approach can be found in the city of Reggio Emilia, Italy, where the methodology was developed by Loris Malaguzzi after World War II. Reggio Children is a research center that supports and promotes the education of children ages 0-6 years old using the principles of the Reggio Emilia Approach. The center offers professional development and training for educators, organizes conferences, and supports research and publications related to the approach.

Boulder Journey School (Boulder, Colorado, USA): This independent, non-profit preschool and kindergarten in the United States follows the Reggio Emilia Approach to teaching and learning. At Boulder Journey School, children are encouraged to explore their interests and ideas through a variety of hands-on, project-based experiences. The school’s curriculum emphasizes inquiry, creativity, and collaboration, and the learning environment is designed to reflect the values and principles of the Reggio Emilia Approach.

Darlinghurst Community Preschool (Sydney, Australia): This Australian preschool utilizes the Reggio Emilia Approach to provide quality care and education for children aged 2-5 years old. The curriculum in this preschool focuses on creating a meaningful, collaborative, and engaging learning environment that supports children’s individual needs and interests. Activities and projects encourage children to develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and social skills while fostering a love for learning.

FAQ: Reggio Emilia Approach

1. What is the Reggio Emilia Approach?

The Reggio Emilia Approach is an educational philosophy that focuses on preschool and primary education. It was developed in the mid-20th century in Reggio Emilia, Italy and emphasizes collaboration, exploration, and learning through experience in a student-centered environment.

2. What are the key principles of the Reggio Emilia Approach?

The Reggio Emilia Approach is built on several key principles, including:
– The child as an active and competent learner
– The importance of a strong, supportive community
– Teachers as co-learners and researchers alongside children
– The classroom environment as the “third teacher”
– The integration of different disciplines to promote holistic learning
– Documentation and reflection to make learning visible.

3. How is the environment important in the Reggio Emilia Approach?

In the Reggio Emilia Approach, the environment is considered the “third teacher,” as it plays a crucial role in fostering children’s learning and exploration. Classrooms are designed to be inviting, engaging, and adaptable to meet the needs of all children. Teachers carefully select materials, arrange spaces, and plan activities to stimulate curiosity, creativity, and collaboration.

4. What is the role of the teacher in the Reggio Emilia Approach?

Teachers in the Reggio Emilia Approach are seen as co-learners and researchers alongside children. They actively listen, observe, and question children’s ideas, providing support and encouragement to help them explore their interests. Teachers are also responsible for designing the environment, documenting children’s learning processes, and engaging in ongoing professional development to continually improve their practice.

5. How does the Reggio Emilia Approach support individualized learning?

The Reggio Emilia Approach values and respects each child’s unique interests, strengths, and potential. Teachers are knowledgeable about child development and skillfully facilitate learning experiences that are tailored to individual needs. Through observation, documentation, and reflection, educators adapt their teaching strategies and the learning environment to support each child’s growth and development.

6. Can the Reggio Emilia Approach be applied to elementary and secondary education?

While the Reggio Emilia Approach’s roots lie in early childhood education, its core principles have been successfully adapted and applied to primary and even secondary education settings. These principles, such as nurturing a strong sense of community, promoting interdisciplinary learning, and empowering students as active learners, are universally relevant and beneficial to all learners regardless of age.

Related Parenting Terms

  • Child-centered curriculum
  • Environment as the third teacher
  • Documentation and reflection
  • Collaborative learning
  • Role of the teacher as a facilitator

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