Seeing Children and Ourselves
Reggio-inspired educators see children as competent thinkers and meaning-makers. They recognize children’s powers of initiative and resourcefulness and make room for them to pursue their ideas. They view children as “protagonists” of their own learning, as naturally curious and capable of pursuing what they want and need to find out about the world. They recognize the rights of children to have a safe, beautiful, responsive and challenging context in which to learn.
The Reggio approach views teachers as active researchers. The teacher’s role is to be engaged in co-creating experiences through observation of, listening to, thinking with and extending the thinking of the children. The teachers’ own questions and investigations of learning are valued. Teachers work together to plan and to communicate their own learning in true collaboration.
Parents are collaborators with teachers, with the children and with each other to support learning. They are asked to contribute their ideas, time and talents and to participate in decision-making within the school.
An essential component of a Reggio-inspired program is to make visible the learning of both children and adults. This happens through documentation, in which the process of learning is recorded through note-taking, dialogue, photographs, video and other means of transcribing the interactions of children with the environment, with adults and with each other. Through this process the learning can be studied, reflected upon and re-entered; ideas can be brought in to add variety or complexity to renew the experience.
More than mere “evidence” of completed work, documentation in the Reggio tradition becomes part of a reflective loop: it makes initial ideas visible, creates access points for new participants and new dialogue, and paves the way for fresh ideas – which will, in turn, be documented and incorporated into the growing body of thought. In Reggio-inspired practice, documentation helps children grow their ideas; it also opens up an avenue of participation for parents, elevates the professional discourse among teachers, and serves as a source for advocacy in the world of public policy.