Exploring Reggio: An Introduction

I’m thrilled to be starting a new bi-monthly series with some talented fellow-bloggers, about Reggio Emilia, a much-loved educational theory. Many proponents of play-based learning and child-centred educators may discover that Reggio principles are already at the core of so much of what we do when aiding children in their individual learning journeys.  I can’t wait for this series to begin!

Exploring Reggio series button


Join me, Kate from An Everyday Story, Ness from One Perfect Day, Debs from Learn with Play at Home and Stephanie from Twodaloo as we talk through some of the central themes of the approach every other week, sharing things we have discovered, ideas we have tried and resources and materials we have found useful. In true Reggio style we will be researching and reporting back our findings, and would love for you to follow along with us as co-learners in our series.

[You can read a brief history of Reggio Emilia here]

Lavender sensory salt


As a brief overview and introduction, here are some key points in the Reggio Emilia approach.


* values the child as central to their own learning, not simply an empty vessel waiting to be gilled ip with knowledge, able to purse their own interests and revisit and build upon ideas at their own pace

* recognises that relationships with other children and adults are hugely important to how a child learns and involves parents closely as a result of this

* values early childhood as a significant part of life in and of itself, not merely a stepping-stone to “real” future learning

* champions creativity, imaginative skills and expressive arts and dedicates space, resources and teachers specifically for this purpose

* follows an emergent curriculum based upon a thorough knowledge of the children’s individual interests and abilities, due to a close teacher-child relationship and lots of observations of their play

The 100 languages of the child:

“The child
is made of one hundred. The child has
a hundred languages
a hundred hands
a hundred thoughts
a hundred ways of thinking of playing, of speaking” …

[Loris Malaguzzi]

Grinding coffee

The environment:

*learning spaces are open, free flowing between rooms and gathered around a central meeting area, and leading to outdoor learning spaces which are valued as important as the indoor classroom

*there is a huge emphasis placed on the importance of natural light, using large windows, mirrors and reflective surfaces, with white and neutral colours used to decorate

*good quality, stimulating and interesting materials are made freely accessible and can be used in multiple ways for on-going projects

*the environment is referred to as the “third teacher” as its importance is seen to be critical for young children’s development

First sewing basket for kids

The role of the teacher:

*teachers are encouraged to observe, stay back and allow children to experiment, make mistakes and self-correct

*together with the child they research and discover together, with plenty of opportunities set up for providing open ended challenges, play prompts or “provocations” to extend their ideas further (see also Invitations to Play)

*they observe and analyse children’s learning in photographic and annotated documents which record the child’s learning journey over the course of a number of years, with teachers stating with the children over this period

*children add to these themselves and are a very integral part of  understanding their own development, giving them the skills to become independent learners later on
Defrosting toys from ice experiment

For more information on this topic, read this very interesting and full study of the Reggio Approach in schools.

We can’t wait to begin this series! We will be back in 2 weeks time with our first topic.

Until then check out our collaborative Exploring Reggio Pinterest board where we are pinning fabulous finds daily!


  1. says

    I am finishing up my graduate studies in early childhood with a focus on Reggio. It is exciting to read your insights and inspirations on an approach to learning so dear to my heart.

  2. Hanna says

    Hi there, I am a passionate ece teacher with a background of teaching in a high quality early childhood centre that was inspired by the principals of Reggio Emilia.
    It is great to see you sharing what quality early childhood education could strive towards. The reggio emilia ece is a world reknown education approach that is being used in all parts of the globe. It is really about planting your own seed with a philosophy that shares and emphasises the importance and value we hold on the youngest cititzens of our society.

  3. says

    Oh wow! I am so excited to follow this!!!! I trained as a primary school teacher, specialising in the Early Years….I am soooo interested to see your ideas :-)

  4. says

    Looking forward to the series and learning more about Reggio with all of my favourite bloggers :). I think it’ll be a stark contrast to most teaching practices in primary classrooms today, so I’m keen to take notes, reflect and hopefully implement some positive changes xo P

  5. Susan lavallee says

    Iam really excited about this. I have been an early childhood educator for over 20 years. I love Reggio, and look forward to the series and your ideas.

  6. says

    My daughter who has a one year old son sent me your link. Congratulations! It is great to see the Reggio approach reaching families at home. I have been on educational tours to Reggio Emilia and Melbourne and three years ago introduced the Reggio approach in my centre, City Heights, in Dunedin, New Zealand, alongside the Montessori method we adopted many years ago. The Reggio approach, with it’s emphasis on group work, creativity and exploration, provides a wonderful balance to the more individual, scientific and structured Montessori method and can be run very successfully alongside Montessori and other curriculum approaches. Both Reggio and Montessori are designed to go to age six, and, if you are in a country where children start school at a younger age, bear in mind, when marvelling at the Reggio publications, that many of the children who did the amazing projects pictured were nearly six. However we have been blown away by the growing expertise of our children, (all under five) in all forms of art and their enthusiastic creativity since adopting the Reggio approach and setting up our atelier.

  7. says

    This is very interesting! My mother in law sent me a pin of your 2012 baby roundup and I’m hooked on your site now (LOL). I even made my son a little treasury bin today – although he was more interested in the bin than the items inside! Looking forward to learning more.

    Nicole @ WKH

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