In response to the tragedy of World War II, people from the town Reggio Emilia
developed a new model of education. War ought to never happen again. Led by Loris
Malaguzzi, a teacher, their idea was to enhance a child's learning through real-life
experiences, instead of a fixed curriculum, so that each child develops a love for
discovery, forms a personality of their own, and learns to respect others. Land, money,
food, and skills for the first preschool were provided by the community.
The Reggio Emilia approach is based on the philosophy of "an image of a child". All
children are viewed as full of potential, with an innate sense of curiosity and endless
imagination. They are creative, capable of constructing their learning and they have a
natural interest to explore. While they follow their interests, they always stay connected
with others. Adults nurture their learning by providing a rich environment and support.
Instead of a one size fits all curriculum, Reggio Emilia use a child-centered approach
and project-based learning. Projects can emerge at any time, for example during play.
Teachers can observe and create opportunities for new learning at a specific instance.
For example, by opening up new environments, letting children raise thought-provoking
questions, or by inviting others to collaborate. After an intervention, the children take
control and progress independently until the project is finished and can be shared with
Throughout a project, children naturally embody the spirit of researchers, risk-takers,
designers and explorers. They make hypotheses, try new things, investigate, play and
imagine. To progress, the explorers raises the questions, the researchers give feedback
and the designers demonstrate ideas and prototypes. Lastly, they all turn their theories
into reality and construct experiments together. The learning becomes social, with
endless ways to solve specific problems.
To promote the development of creativity, teachers step aside and let mistakes happen.
The conflicts that can follow, nurture their social skills. Because conflicts teach children
to speak, to listen, to argue and to discuss. Then learn to accept different opinions and
to respect others for who they are. If two kids discuss a problem, a third can have an
idea and the entire group learns the value of teamwork.
Teachers document projects through pictures, videos, or written observations. The
learnings become visible in photographs, drawings or sculptures. Ideas, quotes and
transcripts of conversations are put onto the walls. The children can later revisit their
achievements, see projects that were left unfinished and learn that failure is part of the
path to progress. They built confidence in their abilities.