There are six education systems that we looked at in this year’s School Choice Guide. The sixth and last system is Reggio Emilia. Find out why the Pohlmann Family chose this system. Read about the first system, Advanced Placement Courses and SAT/PSAT here; the second, the Chinese National Curriculum here; the third, the English National Curriculum here; the fourth, International Baccalaureate (IB) here. and the fifth, Montessori here.
Reggio Emilia is an early childhood philosophy named after the city of the same name in northern Italy, where communities in the surrounding villages sought a way to rebuild society after World War II. Under the leadership of founder and educator Loris Malaguzzi, Reggio Emilia evolved into a parent-led approach that spread all over the world. Malaguzzi believed that children learn through the “hundred languages” of words, movement, painting, drawing, sculpting, shadow play, music, theater, and more.
Reggio Emilia is all about relationships, including the child’s relationship with family, teachers, society, and their environment. This educational approach is self-guided; kids exert a degree of control over their own learning, learn about the world through all five senses, develop meaningful relationships with other children, and have the freedom to express themselves in various ways.
Who does it target?
Reggio Emilia focuses on early childhood education (ages 0-6).
How is it applied?
Reggio Emilia does not have a governing organization, accreditation system, or set curriculum. According to the North American Reggio Emilia Alliance (NAREA), Reggio Emilia is a set of “community-constructed values that have been and are continuously being translated into high-quality early childhood practices.”
The main assessment method for Reggio Emilia is observation. Teachers track the child’s progress by collecting information over long time periods through photos, notes, videos, works of art, and conversations.
In Beijing, schools tend to combine Reggio Emilia with other educational philosophies. House of Knowledge International Kindergarten has the strongest Reggio Emilia influence but its curriculum also borrows aspects of Montessori and traditional Confucian theory. Though an IB World School, the Western Academy of Beijing’s early childhood center offers a Reggio Emilia-inspired program.
Why should parents consider it?
Since Reggio Emilia revolves around family and community, parents are a crucial part of this approach. They are considered the child’s first teacher, and are valued as partners, collaborators, and advocates. As a result, many parents extend the Reggio Emilia philosophy to the home.
How well does this education system prepare students for the real world?
As in Montessori, Reggio Emilia seeks to develop skills for lifelong learning. Reggio children are able to step into a new curriculum or subject with the drive and competency to acquire knowledge.
In class, students are not given any answers; teachers prompt them with questions that allow them to form their own conclusions. Students apply critical thinking skills and have the confidence to ask others for help.
The Pohlmann Family (Russia/Germany)
Klaus and Yulia Pohlmann have a 4-year-old son named Stefan who attends House of Knowledge International Kindergarten (HoK). Klaus works for Volkswagen China while Yulia is a photographer and writer.
Why did you choose Reggio Emilia?
Yulia: We wanted a multicultural, multi-lingual environment with a program which would let Stefan not only study but experiment, experience, and learn through playing. My husband and I strongly believe that little people learn faster having fun with their peers than from any academic program. Our son will have enough time to study hard at school and university later on. We all liked the warm atmosphere at HoK; the teachers are engaged and the children are clearly happy there.
What are the benefits of this curriculum?
Our son likes to explore and learn. He asks lots of questions, and analyzes small pieces of information before reaching a conclusion. He switches easily from one language to another. He also communicates with people older than him. The teachers are trained to recognize the kids’ interests and create ongoing projects that stimulate their curiosity. Through their interactions, children learn how to make friends, solve conflicts and rely on others for help. They learn how to take on different roles and respect other’s opinions. Most importantly for his academic future, he enjoys the learning process. We hope that this will help him become a successful citizen of the world in the future.
What are the drawbacks of Reggio Emilia?
Unfortunately, there is no perfect schooling formula that guarantees a happy outcome. But the HoK approach meets our values and we are quite satisfied with our choice.
Find the downloadable 2014-2015 School Choice Guide here.
Come talk to the schools offerring this curriculum at the 2014 beijingkids and JingKids Spring School Choice Fair, sponsored by RGF AIR Purifiers at the Hilton Beijing on March 1 and 2.
Photo courtesy of Yulia Pohlmann