The Reggio Emilia approach, is turning heads with its unique take on teaching—one that makes parents, teachers and children equal shareholders in the learning initiative.
Although Reggio Emilia is an Italian export, it's not, as you might expect, a fancy cheese. In fact, it's an approach to education from a city of the same name, and it focuses on the educational importance of community and free inquiry as its primary values. Since its development in the 1940s, the Reggio approach has spread into a worldwide network of preschools and kindergartens, with designs for elementary classes in the works.
Although the Reggio approach shares some of the values of the better-known Waldorf and Montessori schools, it's not a philosophy with a set system of beliefs. Rather, it's an approach based around certain fundamental values about how children learn. “These values are interpreted in different schools, different contexts and different ways,” says Susan Lyon, executive director of the Innovative Teacher Project, which aims to develop and promote Reggio-inspired education.