Key features of the Reggio Emilia Approach:
The Role of the Environment
A great attention is given to the look and feel of the classroom. The environment is considered to be the “third teacher”. Teachers organize environments rich in possibilities and provocations that invite the children to undertake extended exploration and problem solving, often in small groups. Documentation of children’s work is displayed both at the children’s and adult eye level.
Children’s multiple symbolic languages
Children learn to use the arts as a symbolic language through which to express their understandings in their project work. Presentation of concepts and hypotheses in multiple forms such as print, art, construction, movement, drama, music, puppetry, and shadow play are viewed as essential to children’s understanding of experience.
Pictures of children engaged in experiences, their words as they discuss what they are doing, feeling and thinking, and the children’s interpretation of experience through the visual media are displayed as a graphic presentation of the dynamics of learning. Teachers act as recorders (documenters) for the children, helping them trace and revisit their words and actions, thereby making the learning visible.
Children’s learning is supported through in-depth, long-term project work in which responding, recording, playing, exploring, hypothesis-building and testing, and provoking occurs. Projects are child-centered, following their interest, returning again and again to add new insights. Throughout a project, teachers help children make decisions about the direction of study, the ways in which the group will research the topic, the representational medium that will demonstrate and showcase the topic.