The Reggio Emilia Approach
TNS Beaconhouse is the first school in Pakistan to embrace the Reggio Emilia Approach and it is the overarching philosophy that scaffolds both our project-based learning and International Baccalaureate Programme.
Reggio Emilia is a city in Italy where, right after the Second World War, a refreshing new approach to learning came into being. Tired of the irrationality of the war and the devastated world it had left behind, a group of parents got together to arrange a new kind of education, far removed from the prevailing system which discouraged creativity and lateral thinking. This approach has been adopted as a unique programme by early childhood educators worldwide.
A philosophy rather than a rigid ‘system’, the Reggio Emilia Approach is a holistic approach to both teaching and learning, based on the principle of learning by doing. Reggio requires that children have some control over the direction of their learning; that they must be able to learn through the experiences of touching, moving, seeing, listening and hearing; and they must have ways and opportunities to express themselves. They must be facilitated in exploring their world.
The arts are viewed as a symbolic language through which children can express their understanding and graphic arts are integrated as tools for cognitive, linguistic, and social development. The presentation of concepts in multiple forms such as print, art, construction, drama, music, puppetry and shadow play are essential to children’s understanding of their experiences.
Great emphasis is placed on the interrelationship between parents, teachers, and the immediate environment. They work together for a common purpose – to create a learning culture that respects every child as a thinking and competent individual, capable of participating in his or her own learning.
Parents are a vital component and their role is so significant because the Reggio philosophy does not end when the child goes home at the end of the day. It is important that a child does not perceive his or her school and home as two mutually exclusive spheres. TNS encourages parents to understand the key role that Reggio plays in our philosophy towards learning, so that this may carry on seamlessly in the home environment.
The role of the teacher is a very special one in the Reggio Emilia Approach; first and foremost, it is to be a learner with each child. The teacher is also a researcher, a resource and a guide. Each teacher listens and observes, and provokes thinking rather than simply handing out information. To respect the individuality of every child requires educators to undergo a subtle shift in their own perception, or image, of a child.
The physical environment of the child is often referred to as the child’s third teacher. It is specially organised, as even the surroundings teach children something. Teachers arrange settings rich in possibilities that invite the children to explore; communicate and form relationships in an environment where cooperation and argument both exist in healthy measure.