The Reggio Emilia Approach


It is described as student-centered and constructivist that uses self-directed, experiential learning in relationship-driven environments.

The program is based on, responsibility, and community through exploration and discovery through a self-guided curriculum. This means that is student led, with supportive learning from teachers.


It assumes that children form their own personality during early years of development and are endowed with “a hundred languages”, through which they can express their ideas.

The aim of the Reggio approach is to teach how to use these symbolic languages (e.g., painting, sculpting, drama) in everyday life.


The Reggio Emilia philosophy is based upon the following set of principles:

  • Children must have some control over the direction of their learning.
  • Children must be able to learn through experiences of touching, moving, listening, and observing.
  • Children have a relationship with other children and with material items in the world that they must be allowed to explore.
  • Children must have endless ways and opportunities to express themselves.


The Reggio Emilia approach to teaching believes in the relationships that are formed, and the community that children create. They believe that all children have rights and should have the opportunity to be creative, curious and confident in their learning and knowledge. It is imperative that children have the opportunity to observe, explore, question, and create their own understanding. All of this takes place within the social construct as children are social beings that exist within a group.

This approach is only possible through the joint support of the children, teachers, families, and community. It is the community effort that makes this style of learning possible. That everyone understands that learning doesn’t only take place during certain parts of the day, but is a continual process, and that learning that takes places at school should be mirrored in the home environment.

The theoretical approach holds hands with theorist like, John Dewey, Jean Piaget, Vygotsky, and Jerome Bruner. We believe in the documentation of work, creating visual, auditory, and written accounts of the work that is being done in the classroom. This provides that whole community with joint understanding of the experiences that are taking place in the classroom.

The environment is seen as a third teacher within the classroom, creating a physical space to create powerful learning opportunities. The space should be a reflection of the learning that is taking place, and change to help support the children in their quest to make meaning of their world. Long term projects with children allow them the ability to dive deep into their shared interests, giving them opportunities to problem solve with their peers and find a variety of ways to push their learning in new ways and to uncover more opportunities to explore the culture contexts that influence their style of learning.