The Early Years Foundation Stage and the Reggio Emilia Approach

Over many years here at Childsplay, managers and practitioners have been working together to embed an inspiring approach to supporting young children’s learning and development.  This approach was  founded in a small city called Reggio Emilia in Northern Italy and became renowned for how they work with young children in their Infant and Toddler Centres and Preschools.  The word spread amongst early year’s educators rapidly between the mid-1980’s to mid-1990 in the UK and around the world.  Seminars and presentations were given across the country, links were made in particular within the North East when a group of educators who were Inspired by their approach and understanding of how education should be for the youngest children, formed together to share their understanding of the research based approach.  This group established themselves as Sightlines Initiative and are based in Newcastle.  Educators who have visited the centres in Reggio Emilia have been touched by the ‘Reggio Experience’, in Reggio there is no predetermined curriculum, instead the educational experience is trusted to the image of the child as rich in potential, strong, powerful and competent.  Children are encouraged to develop their own theories and work with the educators to explore and collaborate in great depth.  Importance has been placed on relationships, space and environments and ‘time’.  Communication and relationships embed the possibilities, as such it epitomises the whole research-based approach to children and adults; (Educators, pedagogists, artists and other specialisms when required) learning alongside one another and valuing the child in the centre of their learning, not informing as may be defined in our own education system in schools in the UK.

At Childsplay, we acknowledge that we cannot replicate this system, as it is exclusive to the culture in which it exists.  However, through our research into the Reggio Approach, we are able to enrich our daily experiences with the children in our nursery.  The team strive towards the same principles as Reggio, connecting with their philosophy as we resemble the early co-operative movement in Reggio that determined the beginnings of Infant, Toddler and Preschool centres; there are 24 Infant-Toddler centres in Reggio of which 11 are affiliated co-operatives (Thornton and Brunton, 1995).  Visitors to Childsplay will often comment on, ‘the nice feel’, and state, they can’t explain it, but it’s calm and all the children are busy’, many, many times we have been informed of similar ethos, just as the visitors and research to the centres in Reggio state; That they have been touched by the ‘Reggio experience’ on viewing how adults interact and relate to children’s theories and observe how they enter into provocation and dialogue to extend the child’s learning together.

Further reading:

Cadwell, L B (1997) Bringing Reggio Emilia Home: An Innovative Approach to Early Childhood Education.  Teachers College Press: Cambridge.

Edwards, C. Gandini, L and Forman G (1998) The Hundred Languages of Children: The Reggio Emilia Approach - Advanced Reflections.  Ablex Publishing Corporation.