What is active learning? The Reggio Emilia Approach: Nurturing Education through Creativity and Collaboration

Active learning is a learning approach applicable for children as early as 6 months old all the way to primary school years and we are going to focus more on the early years. Whether you are an educator, a parent, caregiver in any capacity we are all on a journey to find better ways to help our little ones grow.

This image shows a child engaged in active learning. she is role playing and simulating everyday life of adults in(pretend play)
Pretend playing (role-playing) activities are an important part of active learning.

So, active learning – what's the deal? In a nutshell, it is teaching children through play, activities and projects.

It identifies and builds on children's strengths, interests and abilities. This approach is often child-led and constructive self-guided approach that uses self-directed, experiential learning in relationship-driven environments. Kind of like giving them the steering wheel.

I have incorporated The Reggio model in my early years teaching amongst other active learning programs, and let me tell you the children were not the only once learning new things.

this image is of a child engaged in active learning exploration.
Active learning exploration

Oh! My favorite early education quote is by Loris Malaguzzi: “Creativity becomes more visible when adults try to be more attentive to the cognitive processes of children than to the results they achieve in various fields of doing and understanding.”

Loris Malaguzzi (1920–1994) was a visionary educator and the driving force behind the development of the Reggio Emilia Approach. Born in Italy, Malaguzzi's innovative ideas and deep commitment to children's education led him to co-create an educational philosophy that has left a profound impact on early childhood education worldwide. His belief in the immense potential of children, the significance of community collaboration, and the role of creativity in learning were central to his approach. Malaguzzi's legacy continues to inspire educators to view children as capable, curious learners and to create environments that foster their innate curiosity and creativity.

The Reggio Emilia Approach: Nurturing Education through Creativity and Collaboration

The Reggio Emilia Approach, an innovative and child-centered educational philosophy, emerged in post-World War II Italy and has since gained worldwide recognition for its emphasis on fostering children's innate curiosity, creativity, and collaborative abilities. This approach was inspired by the town of Reggio Emilia in Northern Italy, where educators, parents, and community members came together to create a unique educational philosophy that places the child at the center of the learning experience. The approach is characterized by its principles, core values, and its enduring relevance in modern education.

The five Principals

The Reggio Emilia Approach is guided by five fundamental principles that shape its educational philosophy:

A child exploring texture, color and exercising gross motor skills.
A child exploring texture, color and exercising gross motor skills.

The Image of a Child

This principle views children as capable, curious, and full of potential. Educators in this approach believe that children have a hundred languages through which they can express themselves, including art, movement, and language. To better understand read the book “The Hundred Languages of Children: The Reggio Emilia Experience in Transformation”

The Role of the Teacher: Teachers are considered collaborators and facilitators in the learning process. They observe, document, and engage with children's interests, providing guidance and support while respecting their autonomy.

The Environment as the Third Teacher: The physical environment is thoughtfully designed to inspire exploration and discovery. It is considered an integral part of the learning experience and is meant to encourage interaction, creativity, and problem-solving.

Project-Based Learning: Learning in the Reggio Emilia Approach often occurs through long-term, in-depth projects that are based on children's interests and questions. These projects encourage investigation, research, and collaboration among children and teachers.

Collaboration and Communication: Social collaboration is emphasized, fostering a sense of community and encouraging children to learn from and with each other. Dialogue and communication are seen as essential tools for learning.

active learning exploration
active learning exploration
Science exploration in active learning
Science exploration in active learning

General Core Principle: At the heart of the Reggio Emilia Approach is the belief that education is a dynamic and reciprocal process. Children are seen as active participants in constructing their own knowledge, rather than passive recipients. The approach values the interconnections between children, teachers, families, and the broader community, recognizing that each plays a vital role in a child’s holistic development.

How it benefits your child: In today’s rapidly changing world, the Reggio Emilia Approach continues to offer numerous benefits for children’s education:

1. Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving :The approach encourages children to explore, question, and investigate, fostering critical thinking skills that are essential in an information-rich society.

2. Creativity and Self-Expression: By valuing multiple forms of expression, including art, drama, and writing, the approach nurtures creativity and supports children in developing their unique voices.

3. Collaboration and Communication Skills: The emphasis on collaboration and dialogue prepares children for the demands of teamwork and effective communication in various settings.

4. Adaptability and Resilience: Through project-based learning, children engage with complex topics and learn to adapt to new challenges, promoting resilience and a growth mindset.

5. Empowerment and Agency: The Reggio Emilia Approach empowers children to take an active role in their learning, fostering a sense of agency that prepares them to be lifelong learners and engaged citizens.

The Reggio Emilia Approach, rooted in its historical origins and core principles, remains a beacon of child-centered education. By valuing children's capabilities, promoting collaboration, and embracing creativity, this approach equips children with the skills and attitudes they need to thrive in the modern world. In a society that values innovation, communication, and critical thinking, the Reggio Emilia Approach offers a timeless and powerful model for holistic education. I’ll be writing more about this learning method in the future. I hope this gets you excited to start your journey with your little one, the Reggio way. Until next time, ciao!

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