We are influenced by the Reggio Emilia Approach from Italy. The Reggio Emilia Approach is an educational philosophy based on the image of the child, and of human beings, as possessing strong potentials for development and as a subject of rights who learns and grows in the relationships with others (www.reggiochildren.it)
Professor Carla Rinaldi who is the President of Reggio Children and President of the Reggio Children-Loris Malaguzzi Centre Foundation was an Adelaide Thinker in Residence in 2012-2013. During this time she wrote a paper titled ‘Reimagining Childhood: The inspiration of Reggio Emilia education principles in South Australia’ (http://www.thinkers.sa.gov.au/rinaldiflipbook/files/inc/d99b4762d1.pdf) which outlined recommendations for early childhood education in South Australia. Professor Rinaldi has also worked closely with Catholic Education South Australia over the last two years as the system ‘re-imagines’ childhood and education from birth to 18 years old.
At Holy Family we have been exploring the following principles of the Reggio Emilia Approach and these are reflected in the planning, learning and documentation in R/1TD and R/1GC:
• Our image of the child — viewing children as competent; and capable of constructing their own knowledge and understandings, driven by their own interests and curiosities.
• Children possess a hundred languages — children have many, many ways (at least a hundred) of expressing their thoughts, understandings, creativities and realities. They have a hundred different ways of exploring; discovering, thinking and learning from drawing to movement to imaginative play to sculpting to playing music. We must respect, value and nurture these languages. These languages are ways of learning.
• The Environment as the Third Teacher — the environment inspires children and the spaces need to be beautiful, clean, clutter-free, motivating, filled with different materials, purposeful and flexible. Spaces are created to
enable communication, independence and collaboration between children and with adults. Both children and
adults care for spaces.
• Making Learning Visible — emphasis on recording children’s thoughts, processes, ideas and questions and documenting the progression of learning — the learning journey. This can be done in various ways including photographs, video, drawings, transcripts of conversations, etc. Documentation is also used to assist teachers plan future learning opportunities for children.
• The role of the Teacher — the role of the teacher is to observe and listen to children including their questions, stories and interests and provide opportunities for them to grow their understandings and explore their interests further. Teachers are:
– Co-constructors (partners, guides, nurturers, hypothesizers with children)
– Researchers (observe, learn, revisit with children)
– Documenters (listen, record with children)
– Advocates for children
• Involvement of Families — partner with families and include them in the planning and implementation of learning experiences and opportunities as well as ensuring the care and wellbeing of each child.
• Projects — project ideas come from children’s experiences, interests and curiosities and teachers’ observations of children and interactions with them. Projects enable children to develop their knowledge and understanding independently, collectively and collegially with other children and their teachers.