Reggio Emilia Education: Parents As Partners

Reggio Emilia Education: Parents As Partners

Reggio Emilia Education: Parents As Partners

Key Concepts

1. Reciprocal relationship between teacher and student and strong collaboration between parents and other students.

2. Children are encouraged to learn in depth about things that interest them.

3. Students are unique learners and various learning approaches are utilized.


Reggio-Emilia began in a small Italian town of the same name and is a student-centered approach to early childhood education. Following World War II, many women in Italy were determined to create a better education for future generations. Using what little resources they could find, local men and women built a school for young children in the small town of Villa Cella, just under 5 miles from Reggio Emilia. It was the first post-war school of its kind, and it garnered the attention of nearby primary school teacher Loris Malaguzzi.

Laying the Foundation for the Reggio Emilia Approach

Reggio Emilia's residents had experienced many challenges due to the war and politics of the region. Malaguzzi visited Villa Cella, and he decided it was critical to discover more about how young children learn and develop, leading him to become a psychologist. He strongly supported the idea of teachers and parents being an integral part of their children's learning. At the time, these schools were created and run by parents, which meant they counted on the local community for resources and assistance.  

While the Roman Catholic Church typically oversaw schools throughout most of Italy, as more and more women entered the workforce, the need for more of these community-created schools grew. Plus, many people desired more input and involvement in their children's education. Malaguzzi persuaded the local government to take over what was called "the people's schools," and in 1963, the first municipal preschool opened. 

A center for very young children, three months to three years, opened in 1970, providing an environment that catered to the children's unique developmental needs. The Reggio approach stressed and recognized the importance of early childhood education, and parents supported the movement and continued to be very involved with the schools. This strong relationship between families and schools is the foundation on which the Reggio Emilia approach has developed over the years.

Key Principles of Reggio-Emilia Education

Reggio Emilia education recognizes children as capable individuals who can steer their own learning course. Together with teachers and parents, students learn and develop based on various experiences and the world around them.  

Collaboration and Student-Centered Learning: One of the most vital principles of the Reggio Approach is a reciprocal relationship between teacher and student. Plus, a strong partnership between parents, teachers, and the other children. Students take the helm in their education, with those around them acting as guides and partners. Both students and teachers learn together within a group setting specifically designed for exploration and discovery. In the Reggio Emilia world, the classroom is often referred to as "the third teacher" because it provides many in-depth learning opportunities, another important principle.

In-Depth Learning: Children are encouraged to learn more about things that interest them, scratching well beneath the surface to discover a topic inside and out. Teachers help by observing students, learning their interests, and guiding them to choose their project or adventure. Then, students decide in which direction their research will go, whether the process takes two weeks or the entire school year. Teachers ensure that the students have what they need in the classroom to utilize a variety of mediums to express themselves.

Multiple Forms of Expression: A Reggio Emilia classroom celebrates the concept of students being unique learners through incorporating numerous ways to teach various concepts. For example, teachers might introduce a new idea through art, music, speech, and even puppets. This ensures that every child can form a connection and understanding with the material.

The Reggio Emilia approach to education recognizes the vital role parents play in their children's learning. At Educating AMY, we strive to help parents and children find creative and valuable ways to learn together through developmentally-appropriate products and hands-on experiences.

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