A four year old girl (who happens to be my daughter, but this could be almost any child in that age group) is gathering sticks and leaves in the park. She uses them to make a tiny tent on the base of a large oak tree. I don’t interfere with her play, although I’m just near enough to make out some of the things she’s saying to her imaginary pets. Apparently, there is a storm coming and they have to protect themselves while she’s away. Later on, she will explain the whole situation to her friend, who’ll join her important project, and together they’ll ensure the safety of their extraordinary collection of pets – ranging from squirrels to unicorns. This is play in its purest form and, as most parents and early years educators would say, it seems to be extremely beneficial for the overall development and learning of children.
The ‘Reggio Emilia’ approach to education originated in Northern Italy right after the end of World War II. It was created by Lorris Malaguzzi, a teacher, and parents who lived in the area around Reggio Emilia. The number of Reggio settings grew rapidly and the reputation of the alternative approach grew stronger over the years. During the last quarter century it has attracted international attention. In this post, we look at the many benefits of this approach to early years education.
A key principle of the Reggio approach is the recognition that children have rights when it comes to their learning. The child is put at the centre of the practice by being treated as a ‘knowledge bearer’. By valuing children in this way educators must put more emphasis on really listening to the children. Our school fully adopts and promotes this principle: every member of staff at Alphablocks Nursery School & Pre-Prep, Hadley Wood, is expected to listen and give ample time and space to children to express themselves.
Does a nursery school’s philosophy and approach to teaching matter? After all, doesn’t actual learning really begin at primary school?