Understanding the Philosophy behind the Reggio Emilia Approach

By By Odette Valdez and Dr. Maggie Lopez April 20, 2017

OVBabies Early Learning: A Reggio Inspired Center, a recently opened daycare located in Paramus behind IKEA, is dedicated to providing an environment where young children are supported and encouraged to develop through a self-guided curriculum. Studies have shown that children learn best if they have some control over the direction of their learning (Kohn, 1993).

The essence of the demand for freedom is the need of conditions which will enable an individual to make his own special contribution to a group interest, and to partake of its activities in such ways that social guidance shall be a matter of his own mental attitude and not a mere authoritative dictation of his acts. -John Dewey, Democracy and Education

Reggio Emilia is a small town located in the Northern Italy, where the Founder of OVBabies Early Learning: A Reggio Inspired Center, Odette D. Valdez, traveled to study the philosophy and acquire experience by observing various schools in town. In her journey, she was able to absorb this innovated approach to teaching young children. The Reggio Emilia Approach was founded by Loris Malaguzzi, a teacher who after World War II noticed that need for new way of educating the young was a major concern for the people of the town. A need to focus on the process of learning instead of the final product was eminent. It is an approach where a major teaching strategy is allowing for mistakes to occur for the pure reason of learning. A view where a project may begin with no clear sense of where it might end, allowing for every child’s view and ideas to merge and develop the final product. This form of teaching is new to the Western world, yet through the principles of respect, responsibility and community that the children explore and discover within their supportive and enriching environment and a self-guided curriculum emerges.

"... the kids build their own intelligence. Adults need to provide them with the organization and the context and especially to be able to listen" - Loris Malaguzzi, Developer of the Reggio Emilia Approach

Kohn, A. (1993). Choices for children: Why and how to let students decide.