A dynamic forum focused on the experience of childhood and the process of learning

“Reggio is not a blueprint.

It is an inspiration to be yourself, to find your own excellence and perfect it.”

- Jerome Bruner

Introduction to the Educational Project of Reggio-Emilia

The Infant-Toddler Centers and Preschools of the city of Reggio Emilia, Italy, recognized internationally as the finest in the world, represent an evolving educational project founded by parents at the end of World War II. Their experience of fascism had “taught parents…that in building a new society it was imperative to safeguard, communicate, … and maintain a vision of children who can think and act for themselves.” (Dahlberg, 1995) At the outset, the drive for nursery schools was a passionate, shared hope for a different future.

Under the leadership of the visionary educator, Loris Malaguzzi, this system of schools became sponsored by the municipality in 1963. It is predicated on an image of all children as strong, curious, full of potential, and desiring of relationships. Alongside this “strong child” developed a community, an organization of schools, and collaboration among citizens, parents, and teachers as an expression of civic responsibility.

These Municipal Infant-Toddler Centers and Preschools of Reggio Emilia, Italy exist only in Reggio Emilia. However, the influence of their educational philosophy and civic practice can be felt around the world as educators from more than 90 countries have learned from and adapted their ideas. As a result, the work of the municipal schools of Reggio Emilia represents an extraordinary invitation for international exchange. This unfolding public educational project raises the possibility that homes, childcare centers, schools, and community spaces can be understood as sites to nurture democratic dispositions: openness to different perspectives, deep and curious listening, fluency in many different modes of expression, and critical thinking.

We each have our unique culture, traditions, context and history. All that we learn from the Italians inspires our work but we cannot replicate it, nor should we attempt to. Instead, Reggio-inspired educators in Minnesota endeavor to interpret the work of these Italian educators and apply it in our own contexts: in our specific cities and towns, with our own traditions, in our own schools, child care centers and other places where we work with children and families.

We share a commitment to basic principles and values with the educators of Reggio Emilia.

Key Principles of the Educational Project of Reggio Emilia, Italy
Excerpted from Indications: Preschools and Infant-Toddler Centres of the Municipality of Reggio Emilia, published by Reggio Children, 2010.

  • Children are active protagonists of their growth and development processes.
  • The Hundred Languages: Children possess a hundred languages. They have a hundred ways of thinking, of expressing themselves, of understanding, and of encountering others.
  • Participation: Children, educators and parents are equal participants in the educational project.
  • Listening: An active attitude of listening between adults, children and the environment is the premise and context of every educational encounter.
  • Learning as a process of individual and group construction.
  • Educational Research: Shared research between adults and children is a priority practice of everyday life, necessary for interpreting the complexity of the world and a powerful instrument of renewal in education.
  • Educational documentation gives value to and makes explicit, visible, and assessable, the nature of individual and group learning processes of both children and adults. 
  • Progettazione: Educational decision-making is based on a process of thought and action that takes into account the multiple viewpoints of children and adults and allows for doubt, uncertainty and errors as part of the rich context of learning. There is no pre-defined curriculum.
  • Organization of the work, the spaces, and the way children and adults spend their time is based on a network of choices and the assumption of shared responsibility.
  •  Environment, spaces, and relations: Interior and exterior spaces are designed and organized in interconnected forms that foster interaction, autonomy, explorations, curiosity, and communication.
  • Professional development is a priority. It is considered both a right and a duty of each individual and of the group. It is included and taken into consideration in the work schedules and is organized collectively.
  • Assessment is viewed as a continuous ongoing action, which informs all aspects of scholastic life and is configured as a public action of dialogue and interpretation.

All content and articles may be used for educational purposes with proper citation (Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License).

Reggio-Inspired Network of Minnesota is a 501(c)3 non-profit located at 525 Pelham Blvd. N., Saint Paul, MN 55104 

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