Reggio Emilia Approach Essay

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Reggio Emilia is a prosperous region in northern Italy with a population of approximately 150,000. The people of this region have a history of civic engagement and cohesive communities based on reciprocity, trust, and networking. During World War II reconstruction, citizens of the area, under the visionary guidance of Loris Malaguzzi (1920–1994), developed an educational system within its municipal schools for young children ages 3 months to 6 years. This infant-toddler and pre-primary delivery system is grounded in the idea that all children, including very young children, have the right to an education and that the local citizenry can and should take direct responsibility for educating those children.

Reggio Emilia schools are a means to support the community’s many needs and to provide a public space for community members, parents, and teachers to dialogue, connect, and instill ethics in the young. Parental knowledge contributions are essential for learning, thus forming a conceptual triad between child, parent, and staff member. Piaget’s concept of creating rich and invigorating learning environments for children is a major pedagogical foundation in Reggio Emilia. So, too, is the perspective of theorist Lev Vygotsky, who valued the importance of the relationship between thought and language, co-construction of knowledge among learners, and the zone of proximal development.

In this approach, children are held to have a legitimate right to intellectual development and to an education that inspires curiosity and discovery through a variety of language forms. Children take an active role working alongside others to explore, discover, and create knowledge for themselves. Through this process of self-discovery and investigation, the child and the teacher act as researchers by exploring questions, finding solutions, and formulating new questions.

Knowledge is a dynamic element that is socially constructed within the relationship of child-child interaction, and interactions between child and adult. These interactions include discord and debate, both of which are valued as opportunities for advanced thinking. Because knowledge formation is dynamic and consistent with constructivist theory, the children of Reggio Emilia develop multiple ways of investigating ideas and interpreting multiple forms of knowledge. Children are encouraged to engage in the “100 languages” of expression and communication derived through oral, artistic, dramatic, musical, dance, and other creative media. In the United States, there are several Reggio Emilia–inspired schools.


  1. Abramson, S., Robinson, R., & Ankenman, K. (1995).
  2. Project work with diverse students: Adapting curriculum based on the Reggio Emilia approach. Childhood Education, 71(4), 197–202.
  3. Edwards, C., Gandini, L., & Forman, G. (Eds.). (1998). The hundred languages of children: The Reggio Emilia approach—Advanced reflections. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.
  4. Fu, V., Stremmel, A. J., & Hill, L. T. (2002). Teaching and learning: Collaborative exploration of the Reggio Emilia approach. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill Prentice Hall.
  5. Hewett, V. M. (2001). Examining the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education. Early Childhood Education Journal, 29(2), 95–100.
  6. Rinaldi, C. (2006). In dialogue with Reggio Emilia: Listening, researching, and learning. New York: Routledge.
  7. L’Atelier School:
  8. Merrill-Palmer Institute:
  9. Reggio Children:

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