Reflections from Reggio Emilia, Italy

In April, I was fortunate enough to travel to Italy so that I could participate in the Reggio Emilia International Study Tour. It was a week of deep reflection, discussion, challenges, questioning, exploration, and for those who know me well…a few tears brought on by the overwhelming beauty and potential of this educational approach to early childhood education.

The roots of this approach are deeply buried in the social, political and cultural experiences of the city of Reggio Emilia, and it has been a model implemented in the infant-toddler centres and preschools for over 50 years. Fundamental to the Reggio Emilia approach is the image of the child and viewing the child as an active member of society, who is also the subject of their own personal rights and agency. Children are supported to be active participants in their own learning and learning itself is viewed as a hands-on and active process.

The Reggio Emilia approach supports and promotes the individuality of the child by acknowledging that children have multiple ways of expressing themselves through the metaphorical ‘Hundred Languages.’ These languages are the endless number of children’s potentials, their ability to wonder and to inquire. The hundred languages remind us that there are multiple ways of seeing and multiple ways of being. Children move in and through multiple languages as they explore the world around them and make meaning through active participating in their learning.

The Reggio Emilia approach is also a place of interaction and dialogue, provocation, self reflection and research which deeply values learning through relationships, and is committed to sharing the child’s learning with families and the community. Relationships are central to the foundations of the approach and it is vital to keep in constant dialogue with all the members of the community in order to develop strong partnerships.

Furthermore, as teacher’s it is our responsibility to make visible the culture of the children we teach and to make visible the quality of the educational service that welcomes our community. As stated by Loris Malaguzzi, the founder of the Reggio Emilia approach “teaching is a professional that cannot afford to think small.” Working in collaborative partnerships with the children and families of our community, we engage in a life long journey of discovery and championing the rights of children.

Travelling to Reggio Emilia was such a personal and much longed for journey for me. I still feel as if I need to take time to digest and reflect upon all that I saw, experienced and heard. I now have a beautiful and much treasured notebook filled with notes, ideas, photos, reflections and sketches that I look forward to revisiting over the years to come. I also look forward to continuing to implement and explore this approach through my own practice.

The idea of the Hundred Languages of Children is expressed in this poem written by Loris Malaguzzi. I hope it provides you something to consider and reflect upon when you consider your own personal image of the child.

 No way. The hundred is there.

The child is made of one hundred.
The child has a hundred languages
a hundred hands
a hundred thoughts
a hundred ways of thinking
of playing, of speaking.
a hundred, always a hundred
ways of listening of marvelling, of loving
a hundred joys
for singing and understanding
a hundred worlds to discover
a hundred worlds to invent
a hundred worlds to dream.
The child has a hundred languages
(and a hundred hundred hundred more)


What outcomes parents should expect from early childhood education and care

Please see the following link to this very interesting article on this topic:

Gina Courtney