Preschool is often a child's first foray into education outside the home, and because of this, it's an important step that deserves serious consideration. Your child's preschool experience will set the stage for the rest of their academic years, and a poor preschool experience can hamper your child's educational progress by stifling their natural curiosity and love of learning. That's why it's worth looking into the various early childhood educational philosophies and finding one that will encourage and nurture your child instead. The Reggio Emilia approach to preschool isn't as well known as Montessori or Waldorf, but it has some important features that may make it the perfect fit for your child. Take a look at a few reasons why you should consider a preschool that uses the Reggio Emilia approach to preschool.
You Believe in Child-Led Learning
Although the concept of child-led learning is commonly associated with homeschooling families, it can also be found in certain school environments. Reggio Emilia preschools are one type of school that incorporates a child-led learning approach.
Child-led learning means letting children choose the subjects that they're going to learn about and the materials they will use to learn. That may or may not resemble traditional teacher-led learning. For example, when you observe a Reggio Emilia classroom, you will most likely see a teacher reading a story to students at some point, just as you would in almost any preschool classroom.
The difference between the Reggio Emilia classroom and the traditional classroom is that the children will have chosen when to read a story and which story to read, not the teacher. You may also notice that only some students are participating in the story time, while others have chosen to build with blocks or fingerpaint or nap in other parts of the room. In Reggio Emilia classrooms, children will generally not be forced to participate in all the same activities at the same time, but can instead chart the direction of their days themselves. Small classroom sizes and multiple staff members help facilitate the children's ability to choose their own activities most of the time.
You Plan to Take An Active Role in Your Child's Education
Parents of children in Reggio Emilia schools are not expected to simply drop their children off and let all the learning happen in school. Quite the contrary, actually. Parents are considered to be the child's first teacher, and a parent's input and involvement is considered just as important as the teacher's. Unlike some school environments that treat teachers as the experts, the Reggio Emilia approach acknowledges that parents are the experts when it comes to their own children, and teachers and parents are considered partners or collaborators.
Parents are encouraged to involve themselves in any or all aspects of their child's school experience. Rather than just asking parents to show up for recitals and field trips, Reggio Emilia parents can often be found in the classroom reading stories to children, supervising outdoor activities, or participating in art projects. Parents are also encouraged to implement aspects of Reggio Emilia-style learning in the home.
You Highly Value a Rich Learning Environment
Teachers and parents aren't the only partners in a child's learning. In Reggio Emilia classrooms, the environment is considered to be a child's third teacher. As a result, staff at Reggio Emilia preschools take great care to create a classroom environment that is stimulating and nurturing.
Inside a Reggio Emilia classroom, you'll find natural materials like plants, leaves and rocks. These can help children learn about their world and stimulate their creativity. Books, toys, crafting materials, and other objects the children use on a daily basis will be located in places that are easy for children to reach by themselves. The room will have separate spaces for different activities, including quiet places to rest when needed. Both indoor and outdoor play spaces are designed to be welcoming, beautiful, and open-ended to allow the children to use the space and materials in their own unique ways.
If all of this sounds like it meshes well with your parenting style, it's very likely that your family would be a great Reggio Emilia family. When it's time for your little one to take those first steps down their long academic path, choose a preschool in your area that follows the Reggio Emilia philosophy. If you're looking for a preschool in the Tacoma area, then check out one like Kid's Country Child Care & Learning Center.