The Reggio Emilia Approach ™

Benvenuti a Reggio Emilia, Italy

“All people – and I mean scholars, researchers, and teachers, who in any place have set themselves to study children seriously – have ended up by discovering not so much the limits and weaknesses of children but rather their surprising and extraordinary strengths and capabilities linked with an inexhaustible need for expression and realization.”  Loris Malaguzzi in The Hundred Languages of Children (2nd ed.), p. 78, Ablex. About Reggio Emilia and the Reggio Approach Reggio Emilia is a city in northern Italy where the infant-toddler centres and preschools that are founded on a strong image of the child, educator and family – centres that were identified by Newsweek magazine as the best in the world – are located.  Thousands of educators, artists, policy makers, architects and others who are drawn to this pedagogy have participated in study weeks in Reggio and countless books and articles have been written about the inspiring approach that was and is constantly in the process of being created there..   The genesis Reggio Emilia’s approach to education grew from a grassroots movement by citizens of the small village of Villa Cella, a few miles from Reggio Emilia, who built a school for their children immediately after World War II, using bricks from bombed-out buildings and proceeds from the sale of tanks and horses that were left behind, determined that their children would never again have to endure Fascism. Loris Malaguzzi heard about this, rode his bicycle out to see this collective, determined act of optimism, and was invited, as an educator, to join them.  Malaguzzi had a vision of building a system of public preschools based on democracy and equality, and in 1963, the first municipal preschools came to life in Reggio Emilia.  Recognizing the importance of making the schools known to the citizens, the educators would pack the children, the materials and themselves into a truck and go into public spaces in the town where the children’s work and learning could be seen.  The citizens quickly developed interest in this project, and Malaguzzi contributed to making the schools places of experimentation and innovation, woven into the fabric of the identity of the city.  In 1970, the first infant-toddler centres were opened.  Together, they formed a comprehensive educational project, based on a view of education as the best way to form freer generations that would reject the obedience that fascism had imposed, and would instead embrace creativity, democracy, and rights.   “These were the parents’ thoughts, expressing a universal aspiration, a declaration against the betrayal of children’s potential, and a warning that children first of all had to be taken seriously and believed in” (Malaguzzi, The Hundred Languages of Children, 2nd ed., p. 58) There are currently 46 centres for children from birth to age six, and a school at the Loris Malaguzzi International Centre for students up to Grade 5. The city of Reggio Emilia also has an international centre for the study of childhood and maintains ongoing contact, through study tours and conferences, with over 80 countries. For further information on the Istituzione Municipal Infant-toddler Centres, Preschools, and Elementary Classrooms of Reggio Emilia, visit the website   The Reggio Emilia Approach “The Reggio Emilia Approach® is an educational philosophy based on the image of a child with strong potentialities for development and a subject with rights, who learns through the hundred languages belonging to all human beings, and grows in relations with others.” The keystone of the approach is the image of children and teachers as capable, resourceful researchers, interested in inquiring seriously into the world around them. Such thoughtful engagement includes working through theories, thoughts, feelings and values in multiple modes of representation, such as drawing, dance, wire, clay, music, painting, light and shadow, design and building, and more. It includes the teacher research of pedagogical documentation in which teachers inquire into children’s thinking and understanding, invite children to revisit documentation, and study documentation in order to propel curriculum further. It is founded on the notion of children as full participants in their society, and creators of culture for others to study and enjoy. Parents are invited to be full participants in the life of schools. It is the richest, most expansive and demanding vision of childhood we have encountered, and as we attempt to cultivate its possibilities, we see children, teachers, and families respond with a depth of thinking, feeling, and joyful participation previously unexperienced. For information on this approach visit and We want to advise you that the office of Reggio Children is pleased that there is growing interest in the infant-toddler centres, preschools, and the educational philosophy of Reggio Emilia.  They note with pride the resources published and professional development initiatives that are organized about the approach.  They also caution interested educators that not all resources and initiatives have accurately reflected their experiences and philosophy.  In order to ensure accurate representation of ideas concerning Reggio, they urge publishers and producers of resources as well as organizers of initiatives concerning the Reggio Emilia Approach to coordinate their plans with Reggio Children, ORA is the only organization in Ontario that is in dialogue with Reggio Children.   The Foundational Values of the Reggio Approach  “To make a lovable school, industrious, inventive, liveable, documentable and communicable, a place of research, learning, re-cognition and reflection, where children, teachers and families feel well – is our point of arrival.”  Loris Malaguzzi The following is from Indications – Preschools and Infant-Toddler Centres of the Municipality of Reggio Emilia, a booklet that underscores “the essential characteristics and founding principles of the educational project” (p.4). Education is a right for all children, for the growth of the individual and the collective, and the responsibility of the community. A system of relationships within the territory, and its culture, capable of joining the local to the global Promoting the rights and potentials of children and their families to relationships, autonomy, creativity and learning together in contexts of dialogue, co-responsibility and shared elaboration that gives value to the specific educational responsibilities of each Children as active protagonists of their own growth and developmental processes. Children possess extraordinary potentials for learning and change. Each child, individually and in relation with the group, possesses an ecological sensibility towards others and towards the environment, toward constructing knowledge and contributing to the construction of culture The Hundred Languages possessed by children, a hundred ways of expressing themselves, of understanding, and of encountering others, with a way of thinking that creates connections between the various dimensions of experience rather than separating them. It is the responsibility of centres and schools to give value and equal dignity to all verbal and non-verbal languages and to make these languages visible Participation is the educational strategy that is constructed and lived day by day in the encounter with others and in the interpersonal relationship, that gives value to and makes use of the hundred languages of children and human beings, viewed as a plurality of points of view and of cultures Listening that nurtures reflection, welcoming, and openness is a condition for dialogue and change. Infant-toddler centres and its preschools have the responsibility to foster and make visible these processes through pedagogical documentation Learning as a process of individual and group construction in relationship with peers, adults and the environment that is fostered by strategies of research, comparison of ideas, and co-participation in the pleasure of learning Shared educational research between adults and children is a priority practice of everyday life, an ethical approach for interpreting the world, systems of co-existence and a powerful instrument for renewal in education Educational documentation gives value to individual and group learning and makes it accessible for revisiting, reconstructing in exchange with different points of view. Documentation as a public space supports the infant toddler and preschools as a forum in which the culture of childhood and education is elaborated through a democratic process. Environment, spaces and relations take shape in relation to projects and learning experiences Professional growth, a right and duty of each individual and the group, is given priority in the daily life of the centres, through reflective practices of observation and documentation in-depth study and sharing Assessment makes use of documentation, the participation of the families and the surrounding community, participation in the integrated public system For more information on the values underpinning the Reggio Approach visit You can also download Lella Gandini’s article “Introduction to the Fundamental Values of the Education of Young Children in Reggio Emilia” at About Loris Malaguzzi (1920 – 1994) In 1963, when the municipality prepared to opened its first preschool, named Robinson Crusoe, Loris Malaguzzi, in his role as a psychologist, was asked to collaborate with this new educational project. Malaguzzi’s career was already rich and varied, with experience of working in early childhood, primary and adult education, and experience in the municipal psychology services and summer camps with school children, and who also worked as a journalist, a theatrical critic and director.  He is a highly esteemed educator and founder/philosopher of the educational approach now identified with the city.  He had voracious curiosity, and never forgot that educating means – demands – boundless joy and optimism. “He was a perfectionist, in love with details and modesty, someone who constantly challenged others and himself, who searched for delicate shades of events to make them emerge fresh from the well of banality” (Hoyuelos, 2013, p. 39).  Malaguzzi’s philosophy was informed by the work of John Dewey, David Hawkins, Gianni Rodari, Paolo Friere, Uri Bronfenbrenner, Jerome Bruner, Edgar Morin, Gregory Bateson, Francisco Varela, Benoit Mandelbrot, Ilia Prigogine, and many others. The schools in Reggio show the strength of Malaguzzi’s belief that theory and practice are, and must be, completely intertwined, each informing the other.  As Peter Moss writes in the introduction to the book Loris Malaguzzi and the schools of Reggio Emilia: A selection of his writings and speeches, 1945-1993, “Loris Malaguzzi was one of the most important figures in twentieth-century early childhood education, achieving world-wide recognition for his educational ideas and his role in the creation of municipal schools for young children in the Italian city of Reggio Emilia, the most successful example ever of progressive, democratic and public education”. For more information about Loris Malaguzzi, Cagliari, P., Castagnetti, M., Giudici, C., Rinaldi, C. Vecchi, and Moss, P. (Eds.) (2016). Loris Malaguzzi and the schools of Reggio Emilia: A selection of his writings and speeches, 1945-1993. Routledge. Hoyuelos, A. (2013). The ethics in Loris Malaguzzi’s philosophy. Isalda. ORA’s International Relationships Through our relationship with the North American Reggio Emilia Alliance (NAREA) and its membership in the Reggio Children International Network, ORA is connected to organizations in over thirty countries.  Within these organizations, there is a commitment, a trust, and a responsibility to congruence with the values and principles of the Reggio Approach. Connections to Ontario’s pedagogyHow Does Learning Happen? and The Kindergarten Program  The Ontario government looked to Reggio Emilia Preschools and Infant-Toddler Centres when developing Ontario’s pedagogy for the early years. Fundamental to this pedagogy is the view of young children, their families and the educators that work with them as protagonists in their own learning.  Pedagogical documentation is promoted as the means to make this learning and collaboration visible, and to promote critical reflection and collaborative inquiry.  There is also an effort to bring the same views into kindergarten pedagogy.   ADD QUOTE “NOTHING WITHOUT JOY”  in a nice script Instead of Reggio Emilia Approach and trademark sign