Here at House of Objects, our work is inspired by the educational approach of Reggio Emilia.
WHAT IS THE REGGIO APPROACH?
Reggio Emilia is a small city in northern Italy. Their visionary approach to learning, pioneered by Loris Malaguzzi, developed in response to World War 2: the parents of the community sought to develop an educational environment that truly empowered children, and began to set up their own preschools.
The image of the child as rich, competent and full of potential is at the very core of their philosophy. The role of the educator is to respond to the ‘hundred languages’ which children use to communicate, working with them in collaboration to explore and expand on the children’s own ideas.
KEY PRINCIPLES OF THE REGGIO APPROACH
- Children are viewed as innately curious, full of knowledge and interested in their surroundings. They are, therefore, naturally competent learners. The emergent curriculum responds to and builds upon the children’s interests, with teachers skillfully catching themes that emerge and providing appropriate projects, materials and environments to investigate them thoroughly. This puts the child in control of their own education, developing critical thinking and self confidence from a very young age.
Collaboration and Interaction
- Parents, teachers and children work in unity as co-collaborators; their well-being is wholly interconnected and highly valued. Parents fully participate in the development of school life, maintaining dialogue with the teachers and often integrating the principles of Reggio into their home life. In addition to this, children stay in the same group with the same teacher for the full two years. This forms a strongly cohesive community and support network, making for an incredibly immersive education a well-rounded understanding of the needs of each child.
- The learning environment itself is considered to be the third teacher, the parent being the first and the child themselves the second. A child’s immediate surroundings have vast potential to inspire and stimulate. Teachers harness this potential by thoughtfully placing intriguing objects with respect to the particular interests of their class. For example, in response to a fascination with reflections, a teacher may place mirrors alongside items of varying shapes, sizes and opacities so as to entice further investigation around the topic.
- With such a strong focus on both collaboration and child-led learning, project work is quite a natural emergence. Negotiation, co-operation and problem solving are greatly encouraged and projects last as long as is necessary to fully investigate the topic. Each child is an equal participant. Ventures such as these have a powerful impact on communication: they give meaning to the tool of language through providing a reason to play with it. Teachers aid this further by instigating discussion on how to research, give form to and showcase the chosen concept. These skills set the children up for lifelong learning.
Emma Pace is a creative artist who has worked in early years education for over 20 years. Much of her work and approach has been inspired by the Reggio preschools and she adapts this philosophy into the daily work at House of Objects:
“What inspires me most about Reggio is their belief in the potential of all children. If we believe all children have potential it means it is up to us as educators to create the contexts in which children can thrive; express themselves, explore the world, make meaning and develop their confidence. The Reggio experience shows us that by really listening to children we can learn to construct a curriculum with them not just for them and in doing so make learning meaningful, interesting and irresistible.”
HOW DO WE APPLY THIS?
We hold the strong belief that all children (and adults!) are gifted and full of potential. Even more importantly, we strive to nurture children’s self esteem by listening to their ideas and giving them the time and space to explore whatever might spark their curiosity.
We regard creativity not as a subject, but as an approach which can be applied to all areas of learning to greatly enhance teaching and engagement levels. In order to let creativity flourish, all our sessions incorporate a child-led approach. We provide initial ideas and inspiration, part of which is our thoughtful and artistic presentation of materials. The structure of the lessons, however, is loose enough to allow for the individual exploration of each child. Facilitators provide the resources and expertise needed to support this exploration, encouraging children to think creatively and learn through investigation of their own ideas.
At House of Objects, we pride ourselves on creating a context in which all participants can use materials to express themselves with ease, working extensively with schools and other groups wishing to explore creative approaches to learning.