Not quite sure what Reggio Emilia is all about? We got the experts to explain it to us in a parent-friendly manner. Read on to find out!
You’ve probably heard the buzzword in your parent circle. The Reggio Emilia approach is a popular teaching philosophy that inspires your child’s early years. But if you’ve not quite grasped what the approach is all about, we’ve got you covered.
Our most recent HoneyKids Talk: Debunking Reggio Emilia Myths covered the ABCs of the world renowned education approach (in parent-friendly terms), the dos and don’ts that impact the Reggio experience, how to support Reggio at home, as well as how it influences your child’s education during their early years and beyond.
Got a burning question and need the answer? Jump to the video section that’s relevant for you!
Speaker introductions – 3.15
The origins of the Reggio Emilia approach – 5.25
Myth #1: Is Reggio a curriculum? – 7.32
Myth 2: It’s best not to learn about reading and writing in early years. – 8.56
Myth 3: If the child didn’t ask for it, we can’t learn about it. – 11.10
Myth 4: All we do is play! – 12.02
Myth 5: Agreeable children are better learners & Myth 6: Children should find answers to their own questions independently. – 13.40
Panelist Sarah Barr and her children’s experience with the Reggio way – 17.02
The Reggio approach to behaviour management – 22.29
Reggio vs. Montessori – 24.31
Why is Reggio good for a child’s learning and development? – 26.27
Q & A – 32.08
During this talk, Anna Ciezczyk, early childhood educator and Infant Care Coordinator at AIS and Sarah Barr, parent of two children who are currently studying at AIS will be joining us to discuss the origin of Reggio Emilia. You’ll also learn the parent-friendly definition of the approach (finally!), how to support Reggio at home, the big no-nos that impact the Reggio experience, and how it’ll benefit your bub during their early years and beyond.
Posted by HoneyKids Asia on Tuesday, November 2, 2021
Debunking Reggio Emilia myths: TOP INSIGHTS FROM THE EXPERTS
1. Reggio is a form of activism
The Reggio approach gives us a chance to stand up for our children, their right to play, have fun, and learn in ways that are developmentally appropriate.
2. Build the foundations before building the house
Learning numeracy and literacy are equally as important in the Reggio approach. However, Reggio educators focus on building the foundations before they build the house. The approach focuses on authentic learning activities. Through learning to sew a beanbag, a child can practice authentic numeracy and literacy skills through pattern-making, measuring fabric and heading out to buy it. The child can also learn how to plan a project from start to finish and how to be patient throughout the process. On top of that, they may also demonstrate resilience in the face of challenges when things don’t go quite right the first time, as they never do with sewing projects. These are impressive skills for any young child to demonstrate.
3. It is NOT a parenting style
Instead, Reggio is a deep respect for the child and their capabilities and an invitation to the community to be “tools” and “resources” in children’s hands. For one parent, Sarah, she watched her child’s teacher guide the students through activities, and it changed the way she parents and interacts with her children. Before being exposed to the Reggio way, she would just answer their questions, often Googling pictures along with the explanations. Now, she invites them into the process and asks them, “I wonder why….” a lot more often.
4. Teachers play the roles of partners and guides
The Reggio environment is designed to have the child at the centre. The spaces should encourage children to work together and the adults to facilitate the learning which is embedded in authentic activities. Reggio Emilia teachers are seen as partners and guides, and they display a genuine respect for the children in their care.The respect extends beyond the child and embraces whole families and community members who are seen as tools for learning in children’s inquiries. The respect extends beyond the child and embraces whole families and community members who are seen as tools for learning in children’s inquiries.
Debunking Reggio Emilia myths: YOUR QUESTIONS, ANSWERED!
1. Is there too much focus on soft skills?
This is a commonly highlighted aspect of progressive education, however, it is not the only focus. It’s just the aspect that stands in contrast to other philosophies and so it’s getting more attention. Still, soft skills are crucial to a successful personal and professional life. The Reggio approach wants children to become lifelong explorers, effective communicators, self-motivated learners, and above all, well-rounded people. With that kind of attitude, children will thrive in whatever they discover they are good at! The world needs drivers, engineers, stylists, and teachers just as much as it needs doctors and lawyers. The key is for them to be happy and excel in what they are truly good at.
2. Are there other schools in Singapore that use this approach as well? How do I go about choosing a Reggio school?
There are many Reggio-inspired schools in Singapore, however each school implements the approach to a degree which best suits the school’s unique culture. For some schools this just means pretty environments and natural resources. For others, it is a deep democratic experience. The spectrum is very wide. To choose the best programme, you should find out:
- How structured is the day?
- Is the curriculum imposed on the children or is it generated from children’s ideas?
- What is the image of the child?
- How welcoming are the teachers to the community – especially with the pandemic, which does not make things easy.
- Have a look at the documentation (the displays), can you hear the children’s voices loud and clear?
3. How can I support the Reggio approach at home?
- Listen to your child’s wonderings. Sometimes they show you that they are interested in something by revisiting the experience. See what you can do to expand the interest.
- Don’t treat interests like themes (decorations, books, etc.) It’s not about transforming the child’s room into a submarine, so don’t overdo it. Keep the interest alive by revisiting it once a while with renewed interest and energy. Reggio teachers will leave room for regular everyday events, play and day-to-day happenings so that when they get round to revisiting the project again (the main interest), it feels special every time. Ideas take time to brew, so children need to talk to others about ideas and perspectives. They need to learn to persevere over time and learn how to follow through. Sometimes things happen at home or on the news, which changes the way we see the issues we’re investigating. Don’t rush it, let it bloom.
- Encourage unstructured play with enough time to get in the “flow”. Let your child get bored – when they’re bored, they become more creative.
- Use everyday objects as open-ended toys.
- Don’t jump in to offer help or solve a problem. Make finding the solution a learning opportunity.
- Use “I wonder” often. It’s less intimidating than a direct question and it takes pressure off of the participants to answer. A wondering could be just that: a wondering. Let it hang in the air, let it be unanswered.
- Model finding out answers by asking others for help, especially from subject matter experts. For example, if your child is wondering about horses, take them to a stable. Real experiential learning happens when we learn in everyday life. Notice numbers and letters in the environment. Go for long walks and wonder about everything, then look for more information.
A big thank you to our panelists Anna Ciezczyk from AIS and Sarah Barr…
Anna Ciezczyk, Infant Care Coordinator at AIS
Anna Ciezczyk is an early childhood educator and the Infant Care Coordinator at AIS where she has been working for the past seven years. Anna originally comes from Poland, but she has been teaching internationally (England, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore) for the past 15 years. Her passion and the subject of her doctoral dissertation is progressive education, notably democratic educational philosophies such as the famed Reggio Emilia Approach. Anna enjoys sharing the respectful approach to children’s learning and development with families.
Originally from Melbourne, Sarah Barr has lived in London, Sydney, Dublin and Shanghai before landing in Singapore eight years ago with her Scottish husband. Both her kids (Isla, 7 years-old and Ruaridh, 5 years-old) were born here and are currently studying at AIS. They enjoy being part of the AIS community and having a connection to Australia while mingling with staff and families from all over the world.
For more helpful tips on parenting and anything school or #mumlife-related, stay tuned on our Instagram for the next HoneyKids Talk!