The Reggio Approach sees the child as protagonist, an active constructor of his or her own knowledge. The teacher is likewise seen as a protagonist who engages in the same processes with colleagues (co-teachers and others), making individual and collective interpretations. Social constructivism is shown in the teachers’ respect for the children’s need to generate their own questions and revisit their choices.
The Reggio Approach makes the connection between children as co-constructors of knowledge and the importance of reciprocal communication and as a key element of learning.
Education is based on communication within teacher-teacher, child-child, teacher-child, parent-child, parent-teacher and parent-parent relationships. This creates a very rich learning environment for all those involved. In the Reggio Approach the teacher is a researcher and the school is seen as a place of research—a place of participation and shared construction of value and meaning.
All children have preparedness, potential, curiosity and interest in constructing their learning, in engaging in social interaction and in negotiating with everything that their environment brings to them.
Teachers listen to and observe children closely in order to plan and proceed with their work with the children. They use the understanding they gain to act as a resource for the children. Teachers ask questions, discover the children’s ideas, hypotheses, and theories, stimulate thinking and provide occasions for discovery and learning. The role of the teacher is be a learner along with the children as they co-construct the learning experience and explore with the children. Teachers consider themselves researchers and partners in learning and enjoy discovering with the children.
Learning is based on relationships between, teachers, parents and children in their environment. Together, children, teachers and parents co-construct knowledge in the context of the school.
The environment is warm and welcoming and fosters children’s ability to make choices, problem solve, master skills and develop relationships. The environment is used as a third teacher and makes visible children’s learning processes.
Parents are considered to be an essential component of the program as part of the advisory councils of each school and supporting classroom activities, celebrations and school events. They are a competent and active part of the community of learners that includes children, teachers and other adults.
Based on mutual respect, collaboration among teachers, children and parents is a key element. Children, teachers and parents collaborate as equal partners in joyful experiences that encourage the development of knowledge, self-esteem and a deep commitment to the community. Working together at every level enhances and enriches the opportunities for learning and discovery.
Observing children in action and documenting what they are learning is an important component used to create ideas for projects as well as to make learning visible. Documentation provides opportunities for the teachers, children, and parents to revisit their ideas, activities and projects, and to reflect on their experiences.
Short and long-term projects are in-depth studies of concepts, ideas, and interests, which arise within the group. Project ideas originate as the children and teachers construct knowledge together. Projects can last a few days to several months.