What exactly is Reggio Emilia and how does it make a Peopleplace education different?

The Reggio Approach derives its name from its place of origin, Reggio Emilia, a city located in Emilia Romagna in Northern Italy. Shortly after the Second World War, Loris Malaguzzi, a young teacher and the founder of this unique system, joined forces with the parents of this region to provide child care for young children. Over the last 50 years, this education system has developed into a unique program that has caught the attention of early childhood educators worldwide.

The Reggio Approach is a complex system that respects and puts into practice many of the fundamental aspects of the work of Dewey, Piaget, and Vygotsky and many others. It is a system that lends itself to: the role of collaboration among children, teachers and parents, the co-construction of knowledge, the interdependence of individual and social learning and the role of culture in understanding this interdependence. (Baji Rankin 2004).

“Peopleplace exemplifies the “amiable school” spoken of in Reggio Emilia – a place where everyone is seen as creative, capable and full of potential.”  Robin Brooks, artist.

Fundamentals to this approach include:

The Child

At the heart of this system is the image of the child.  Reggio teachers believe in the competence of every child.  Children are curious, capable and inventive.  They have an interest in relationships, social interaction, and collaboration.  They are able to construct and negotiate their learning through exploration and inquiry.  Children are rich with wonder, resourcefulness and an eagerness to learn and experience. By allowing the child to build his/her own foundation, intelligence is not memorized, it is created.

The Teacher

The teacher is a researcher guiding children’s experiences. Each child will bring a unique character and personality to school. This will play a major role in how the child interacts with the teacher and interprets learning experiences. Therefore, the teacher acts as a learner alongside the child.

Teachers carefully listen, observe, and document children’s work. In the classroom, teachers provoke, co-construct, and stimulate thinking as children work on projects. Teachers reflect about their own abilities and are committed to unlocking each child’s full potential.


Relationships and healthy development depend on the quality and reliability of a young child’s relationship with the important people in his or her life, both within and outside the family. Family involvement at this age bridges that connection from home to school and enhances the experience for children illustrating just one of the many benefits of the cooperative.

Other relationships help shape the child’s self-awareness; their friendships that develop, but also their relationships with the community, teachers, and environment. These give a young child a sense of belonging and greater understanding that there’s a bigger world that they are a part of. As individuals each with unique personalities, interests and capabilities they learn how to express themselves and also listen and appreciate others.

The Environment

Environment is considered the “third teacher.” In Reggio Emilia schools, classrooms are designed to be visibly attractive and comforting. Plants, mobiles, children’s work, and collections that children have made are displayed at the child’s eye level. Common space available to all children in the school includes dramatic play areas and worktables for children from different classrooms to come together. A welcoming environment encourages a child to engage in activity and discovery. Wall-sized windows, mirrors placed in unexpected locations, help to establish a space filled with opportunity. The Reggio Emilia approach integrates nature into the curriculum so that the child learns to appreciate the physical and structural environment. The architecture is designed to encourage playful encounters for the student.


Documentation is central to the Reggio Emilia approach. Documentation communicates the life of the center to others visiting the center. It also provides opportunities for children to revisit the experience. Documentation is a process that involves observation, reflection, collaboration, interpretation and analysis, and is made a part of the classroom. This process demonstrates to the child the importance of their work.

Multiple forms of documentation ~ photographs, audiotape transcripts, videotapes, classroom notes and the actual product of a child’s work ~ create a multi-sensory “memory” of an activity. Posting the documentation in the preschool encourages students to learn from one another and to appreciate the process of creating. Documentation also serves as a form of assessment. A description of our assessment process can be found in the Family Handbook and the Curriculum and Assessment Framework below.


Italian Reggio Emilia Site ~ http://zerosei.comune.re.it/

North American Reggio Emilia Alliance ~ http://www.reggioalliance.org/index.php

Reggio Emilia Approach/Wikipedia ~ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reggio_Emilia_approach