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Reggio emillia

Little Nest Early School is a Reggio Emilia inspired preschool, which draws on Inquiry approaches and the International Early Years Learning Framework.

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  • The Reggio Emilia Educational Project originated in the town (and surrounding areas) of Reggio Emilia in Italy. It evolved out of a movement towards progressive and cooperative early childhood education. It is unique to Reggio Emilia.

  • Outside of the town of Reggio Emilia, all schools and preschools are Reggio-inspired. They draw on or adapt elements of the approach, specific to their context and needs of their community.

  • Each student, teacher, parent, community, and town are different. No two Reggio-inspired communities should look the same, as the needs and interests of the children within each community will be different.

  • It is not a method. There are no colleges or universities which offer ‘courses’ on how to be a Reggio Emilia educator. Educators develop skills and experience through reflective practice, mentoring, dialogue, reading and ongoing professional development, in conjunction with study tours to Reggio Emilia.

  • There are a number of ‘key principles’ which Educators draw on when working within the context of the Reggio Emilia Educational Approach.


The twelve principles of the Reggio Emilia educational project

The Reggio Emilia Approach (also known as the Reggio Emilia Educational Project) is an innovative approach to early childhood education and care. The central tenant of the approach is that it values the child as strong, capable, resilient and rich in wonder and knowledge. Every child brings with them an innate curiosity, creativity, and a deep potential to understand the world and their place in it. This approach is not a method or a pre-defined curriculum. In Australia, each school or community responds in its own particular way, based on the needs and interests of those children within that community.

  1. Children are active protagonists
    Children have extraordinarily potential for learning and change. They are constantly engaging with their environment, peers, teachers and parents. Each child has a right to be valued for his/her individuality and uniqueness. All children have a right to active participation.

  2. The hundred languages of expression
    The hundred languages is a metaphor for the extraordinary potential of children. Children possess a hundred languages, ways of expression, of understanding and encountering others. Equal value is given to verbal and nonverbal languages and ways of expression.

  3. Participation
    Educators, children and families are stakeholders in the educational project. It is a reciprocal, democratic process. Participation is the strategy that is played out daily through interpersonal interactions and relationships. Participation gives meaning to and makes use of the hundred languages.

  4. Listening
    An active attitude of listening between adults, children and the environment is the context for every educational relationship. It is an ongoing process and an indispensable condition for dialogue, learning and change. It necessarily involves acts of reciprocity.

  5. Individual and group learning
    Children are active constructors and co-constructors of knowledge, competencies and processes. These are unique to relationships with peers, educators and the environment. It is fostered through strategies of research, comparison, dialogue and co-participation and makes use of play, creativity, curiosity and uncertainty, challenge and risk.

  6. Educational research
    Shared research between adults and children is a priority, knowledge building is valued. Research is made visible through documentation.

  7. Educational documentation
    Documentation makes visible and explicit the learning processes of the adults and children. It gives value to the nature of the individual and group learning processes. Documentation is produced, revisited, interpreted, reconstructed and assessed. A ‘public place’ for all (children, educators and parents) to visit and revisit.

  8. Progettazione
    The active process of planning and designing the teaching and learning activities, the environment, opportunities for participation and professional development of staff. It is not a pre-defined curricula. It is carried out by through a constant and evolving process of observation, documentation, reflection and interpretation.

  9. Organisation
    Considers the organisation of the work, the spaces and time. It also considers the administrative, managerial, political and pedagogical levels in a school or learning community.

  10. Environment
    Interior and exterior spaces are carefully designed to foster a sense of interaction, creativity, autonomy, exploration, curiosity and communication. Opportunities and spaces are created for children and adults to research and work together. Spaces are aesthetically pleasing but functional and generate a sense of familiarity and belonging.

  11. Professional development
    Aimed at building understanding and awareness of the meanings and methods of education. Reflective practices of observations and documentation are a priority, dialogue and communication between staff and the learning community is central.

  12. Assessment
    Assessment an ongoing, continuous action which gives meaning and value to the educational experience. It is formative, and can often be informal. Assessment works hand in hand with documentation, observation, interpretation, reflection and planning.

Reference: Indications preschools and infant toddler centres of the Municipality or Reggio Emilia (3rd edition). (2010). Reggio Emilia: Reggio Children.






This poem by the founder of the Reggio-Emilia approach beautifully conveys the important roles imagination and discovery play in early childhood learning. Much of Reggio-Emilia philosophy is based on protecting children from becoming subjected too early to institutionalized doctrines, which often make learning a chore rather than an extension of natural curiosity.

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.

A hundred always a hundred
ways of listening
of marvelling, of loving
a hundred joys
for singing and understanding
a hundred worlds
to discover
a hundred worlds
to invent
a hundred worlds
to dream.

The child has
a hundred languages
(and a hundred hundred hundred more)
but they steal ninety-nine.
The school and the culture
separate the head from the body.

They tell the child:
to think without hands
to do without head
to listen and not to speak
to understand without joy
to love and to marvel
only at Easter and at Christmas.

They tell the child:
to discover the world already there
and of the hundred
they steal ninety-nine.
They tell the child:
that work and play
reality and fantasy
science and imagination
sky and earth
reason and dream
are things
that do not belong together.

And thus they tell the child
that the hundred is not there.
The child says:
No way. The hundred is there.

                             Loris Malaguzzi 1920 – 1994
                             (translated by Lella Gandini)

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