Reggio Emilia and the EYFS

8 August 2016

Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education is based on over forty years of experience in the Reggio Emilia Preschool Centres in Italy. It places emphasis on children’s symbolic languages in the context of a project-oriented curriculum. Learning is viewed as a journey; and education as building relationships with people (both children and adults) and creating connections between ideas and the environment. The Reggio Approach is based on a comprehensive philosophy, underpinned by several fundamental, guiding principles.

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The child as protagonist, collaborator, and communicator, the teacher as partner, nurturer, guide, and researcher. Cooperation as the foundation of the educational system, the environment as the “third teacher. ” the Parent as Partner and Documentation as communication. Emergent Curriculum: An emergent curriculum is one that builds upon the interests of children. Topics for study are captured from the talk of children, through community or family events, as well as the known interests of children (puddles, shadow, dinosaurs, etc. ). Team planning is an essential component of the emergent curriculum.

Teachers work together to formulate the possible directions of a project, the materials needed, and possible parent and/or community support and involvement. Teachers as Researchers: The teacher’s role within the Reggio Emilia approach is complex. Working as co-teachers, the role of the teacher is first and foremost to be that of a learner alongside the children. Within such a teacher-researcher role, educators carefully listen, observe, and document children’s work and the growth of community in their classroom and are to provoke, co-construct, and stimulate thinking and peer collaboration.

Teachers are committed to reflection about their own teaching and learning. (Malaguzzi 2013) The Reggio Emilia approach to Early Childhood Education sees the Environment as being the ‘third teacher’ (the first two being parents and staff). This approach is complementary to the EYFS which indicates that: ‘A rich and varied environment supports children’s learning and development. It gives them the confidence to explore and learn in secure and safe, yet challenging, indoor and outdoor spaces’ (DFE 2012) The Reggio approach holds a powerful image of the child as strong, competent and confident.

Children are seen as expressing themselves in varied ways known as the hundred languages of children. This also is similar to the EYFS as it suggests; ‘every child is a unique child who is constantly learning and can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured. ’ (DFE: 2012; 2) “Making learning visible”; every setting has a portfolio binder to identify and show parents what their child has achieved during the day. It also shows parents and children of what they learn at school, it gives children a sense of accomplishment and practitioners will encourage children towards learning.

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