Nothing shapes children more than their schooling environment during the early years of life. Kindergarten in particular is a foundational time in a child's life.
Most parents are drawn to their local neighborhood school when sending their kids to kindergarten. But considering that the first seven years of a child's life are the most important for educational development, early school choices are critical. You should spend just as much time choosing a kindergarten as you would a college.
Kindergarten is often the first time that children spend consistent time away from their parents. They are ready to learn and experience the world on their own.
The Reggio Emilia alternative teaching approach supports children's desire to learn. Children are empowered to follow their curiosity, creating lifelong, competent learners.
Wondering why Reggio Emilia will benefit your children? Want to know if a private kindergarten school offering this teaching method is a good fit for your kids? Keep reading to learn all about this teaching method frequently found in private schools.
Why You Should Consider an Alternative Teaching Method
Every child is an individual. They learn best in different ways. As a result, there's no such thing as a one-size-fits-all teaching method, even if some public school systems think otherwise.
There are many different types of private schools, charter schools, and home school programs across the country. Each offers various teaching methods and curriculums. They seek to teach and equip young students in a more effective, engaging manner.
Kids aren't designed to sit at a desk all day being lectured. Instead, most will learn better by doing, exploring, moving, and manipulating their environment.
A teaching approach such as Reggio Emilia understands that children are naturally curious. They will learn and discover on their own if empowered to do so.z
In a Reggio Emilia-inspired classroom, children will discover within themselves a desire and internal motivation to continue learning. This learning environment will prepare them for a lifetime of learning and personal growth.
What Is the Reggio Emilia Method?
The Reggio Emilia teaching approach is designed for children between the ages of three and six, or preschool through first grade.
The teaching method is named after the area it originated from, Reggio Emilia, in the north of Italy. It was born shortly after World War II by Loris Malaguzzi, with the first school adopting this method in 1946.
This alternative teaching method didn't gain traction in the US until much later. In 1991, Newsweek ran a story proclaiming that the schools in this region were among the best in the world. The basis for this teaching method is that a school should be designed around the idea that all children are different, not the same. Each child learns differently.
As Reggio Emilia describes, children have a hundred languages. And it's the goal of a school, its educators, and parent volunteers to empower children to develop these languages.
The learning languages include:
These (and many others) are the ways a child interacts with their environment. They are the methods a child uses to discover their role in society and express themselves in this world.
Benefits of Reggio Emilia Kindergarten Classroom
Wondering why you should send your child to a school using the Reggio Emilia teaching method? Here are some of the main benefits you can expect your child to enjoy.
Feels More Like Home
One of the benefits of the Reggio Emilia approach is that classrooms often feel more like a home than a school. This is especially important for children, as they are spending extended amounts of time outside their own home for the first time.
The learning environment is inviting to children. It feels comfortable and more easily engages their curiosities. Children in these classrooms usually feel free to explore at their own pace, which is a crucial aspect of the learning method.
Put Your Child's Education Into Their Hands
Loris Malaguzzi believed that children are capable and competent. With the right environment and supportive teachers, children can take an active role in their own education.
The Reggio Emilia approach prioritizes child-focused, self-led learning for students. Children are free to explore their environment, manipulating, engaging, and researching as they see fit.
This idea helps children to learn at their own pace, discovering and pursuing their own interests. Not only that, but it helps cultivate a hunger to learn and seek knowledge that will last throughout their lifetime.
Parent, Teacher, and Community Collaboration
For education to be effective, Reggio Emilia believes that teachers are to work alongside parents. True collaboration fosters a healthy learning environment for children.
Teachers in the classroom seek first to observe each individual child. They listen intently so as to know the goals and needs of each student. Teachers support children in their discoveries. They ask questions and test their hypothesis. Teachers help students to articulate the things they are learning through their own observations.
Oftentimes, parents will volunteer in classrooms. They are also encouraged to participate in events to take an active role in their child's discoveries. Parents are then equipped to carry this positive educational mindset into their homes.
Build Social Skills
Children participating in the Reggio Emilia approach are often in small, multi-age classrooms. They are also encouraged to work in groups, solving problems and creating together.
This helps to build social skills as well as the ability to work as a team. In this era of innovation, collaboration has become an essential skill. Children, growing and learning in Reggio Inspired classrooms, continue to make new connections with their environment, as they learn from each other.
Because children have these one-hundred languages, they are free to express themselves. This can be through song or art. It can be in how they write or speak. Or it can be through the actions they take, the toys they play with, or the objects they construct.
Children in Reggio Emilia classrooms are welcome to share their thoughts, ideas, dreams, and feelings. This is due to the safe conditions that teachers create.
One of the most important aspects of this progressive learning method is the priority placed on the environment as a whole. Reggio Emilia classrooms are very intentional in how they are designed to encourage learning from deep inside a child.
The intentionality can be seen in the layout of the classroom, as well as the use of natural light and materials. In a Reggio inspired classroom it is common to see blocks, real chinaware, and glass bowls holding feathers, wooden beads, or other collage material. . Children’s art on the walls, posters, and booklets depicting their learning, photographs of children at work with their words captured in quotes, and much more make a Reggio Emilia classroom unique.
This special environment acts as a "third teacher" to students. The environment encourages them to have new ideas and search for new discoveries in every corner of the room.
One of the main roles of educators in a Reggio Emilia-inspired school is documenting a student's journey. This documentation helps to track and record a child's learning progress, as well as their own unique process.
Records can be made through writing, photography, audio, or video. Teachers, parents, and children are able to look back on these records to follow wonderings, accomplishments, and continued and diverging interests. This informs how teachers, parents, and groups and individual students can best support continued learning.
On top of tracking an individual child, this documentation also helps support the Reggio Emilia approach as a whole. It continues the research to show the effectiveness of the philosophy and day-to-day practice. This allows each educator to participate in the continual development and growth of this teaching method.
Have Fun Learning
With alternative teaching methods like Reggio Emilia, learning is fun. It's child-focused, allowing them to learn, explore, discover, and play to their heart's content. They get to engage with their environment alongside their friends, engaging their imaginations on a daily basis.
Children aren't told what to do but are supported to follow their own curiosities. With such a fun approach to learning, children will develop a strong appetite for knowledge. This sets them up for success as they move into upper grades at school.
Developing Essential Core Skills
In a Reggio-inspired classroom, educators know that children are natural learners with an insatiable appetite and a need to better understand the world around them. This desire brings out an interest in reading, writing, mathematics, and science, as children connect see these skills as tools to be used in their investigations. Children are naturally drawn to books, to words as they tell their stories, and to numbers as they strive to understand how things work. In the outdoors, they are natural scientists in the mud kitchen, the garden, and along footpaths. There is no limit to their development of basic core-curricula skills; children learn because they need to know.
Give Your Children a Reggio-Inspired Education
Is your child getting ready to start kindergarten? Are you hoping to find a kindergarten that applies the Reggio Emilia teaching methods to support your child's innate ability to learn on their own, without limits?
At Voyagers’ Community School, our goal is to provide students from infants to grade 12 with progressive, student-focused education. We empower students at every age to take a leading role in their own education.
Students participate in crafting their education, following their interests, and discovering who they are and what their role in their community is. Our goal is to create lifelong, self-led learners who never stop asking questions and pursuing answers.
Our Lower School offers children from preschool to fifth grade a Reggio-inspired, project-based classroom with the highest educational standards. With small class sizes and increased student-teach interaction, children will have no problem discovering what interests them.
Teachers encourage students to find the topics that are most interesting to them. The outcomes typically result in unique projects based on these interests and their own research into these topics. They become highly skilled readers, writers, and mathematicians with laudable creative and critical thinking skills.
Becoming a Voyager
Ready to hop aboard and join the top progressive private school in New Jersey? Our Reggio-inspired lower school is currently open for enrollment.
You can begin your child's educational journey today by submitting an inquiry form and scheduling a tour of our school either online or in person.
We can't wait to hear from you and help your child to become a passionate learner for many years to come!