Child Care and Early Learning Centres build their curriculum, values and philosophies taking inspiration from many sources they align to. There is an abundance of early childhood philosophies out there in the world and centres will often take on a philosophy wholly or just as partial inspiration for their approach to early learning. Some of the names that you may have heard being thrown around include Montessori, Reggio Emilia, Steiner and Boulder Journey School and this is just a few of the many, many out there. Each carries with it its own beliefs about the ways in which children learn, develop and the values it instils into the everyday operations of a centre.
To provide some context as to why we choose to integrate Reggio Emilia as part of our philosophy and curriculum, I will use my recent trip to Reggio Emilia in Italy to explain.
My Trip To Reggio Emilia
I was very fortunate to be part of the 2018 International Study Group that travelled to Reggio Emilia, Italy. It was a one-week conference that immersed all its participants in the Reggio Emilia approach to education. It was hosted in this beautiful city that is rich in history, beliefs and ever evolving dialogues.
I quickly realised it is a city that truly lives out its teaching principles. This was evident in the schools we visited and the dedicated and passionate teachers we met, who were so open to sharing their experiences and truths.
For me this trip was about being connected right to the source of Reggio Emilia in order to gain a deeper understanding of this approach. Within a few short days I felt as though I was in an educational thread full of light, ideas, inspirations, suggestions and provocations.
If you stay open to learning and seeking, you make connections that impact you for life. It was an opportunity for me to be surrounded by a group of like-minded educators from all around the world whose beliefs and ideas about high quality education and development for all children were in line with the vision alive in my heart and our services.
Children as Leaders of Their Education
My passion for early childhood education is so much more vibrant because of this experience. I love what we do and why we do it. It is as simple, real and raw as that! It stirred up my passion as an early childhood teacher and reaffirmed our alignment to seeing each child as a resilient, capable and creative learner and active participant and decision maker in their own learning journey.
This experience and the moments I lived cemented that we have the greatest profession being collaborators with families, children and the environment in this learning experience. We spend our precious time side by side with our future generation – and that is a gift. We must understand this, deeply understand this!
In Reggio Emilia I resonated with just how much respect, community involvement and responsibility is present. So deeply rooted in its famous principles that we read about and live in our own contexts.
Being part of this journey, I had opportunities to play, explore, laugh, learn, question and evolve not only as an educator but as a human being.
An Experience Summed Up
If I had to choose words to share with you that resonated during and after the trip they would have to be: “participation”, “space”, “time”, “relationships”, “listening”, “openness”, “environment”, “beauty”, “love”, “dialogue”, “exchange”, “collaboration”, “community”, “voice”, “research”, “wonder”, “imagination”, “possibilities”, “respect”, “opportunities” and “joy”.
For these reasons and many more, we choose as a company and a community to continue to be inspired by the educational approach of Reggio Emilia as part of the philosophy and curriculum across our services.
By Anna Kouloubos, Curriculum Manager, Bambini Early Learning Centres