For our new column, Ask an Educator, we turn to educators, whether teachers, tutors, or principals, to answer frequently asked questions from parents. To send in your question, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week, our question is:
“What is the Reggio Emilia education system? Why do you recommend it?”
Answering for us is Dr. Farshad Danicek, Education Director and one of the founding fathers of House of Knowledge.
Reggio Emilia is an innovative constructive approach to early childhood education that sees children as poets and musicians, as artists and performers, scientists and philosophers. Children are seen as unique tiny people who embark on a journey into the realms of research and exploration from the moment they are born in order to find out about themselves, others and the surrounding world. On their life journey, from the moment they come into this world, children encounter numerous sensory experiences that raise many different questions. Asking questions thus becomes an essential tool for acquiring knowledge. In order to understand such questions, children constantly put forward hypotheses and devise possible answers.
Being a Reggio Emilia-inspired school, House of Knowledge (HoK) believes children have an intuitive need to discover the world around them using all of their senses, “grasping” the environment around them in the true sense of the word. We firmly believe that children know exactly what they must do to acquire knowledge and skills, as we consider it a natural human need. Every day, children construct knowledge through their daily experiences, and it is for this reason that we at HoK view our students as active designers of their own development.
At HoK, we believe when an adult keeps telling a child the answers to their questions, or constantly directing them, he or she cannot truly educate the child successfully. Children who love to learn, thrive in an environment where having an inquiring mind is celebrated, where they are allowed to explore their imagination and ask questions they have about themselves, others and the environment around them.
For children to acquire concrete competencies, knowledge and skills in life and academic subjects, they need an environment where they feel free to educate themselves. Once they have acquired fundamental competencies in the early years, they are subsequently able to acquire knowledge and skills (developmental areas) that enable them to continue to succeed for the rest of their lives in a number of developmental areas, be it academics, the arts, physical sports, or their internal social and emotional well-being.
Adults and their surrounding environment facilitate this learning at HoK, where students and teachers are always learners, for students and teachers are also teachers! At HoK, our students and teachers embark on an exciting educational journey from which all participants benefit in the class. Reggio Emilia is a true, child-focused education where math, science, and literacy can all be learned through project-led education.
Moreover, like the Reggio Emilia approach, an HoK education always goes hand in hand with relationships. A positive and harmonious relationship between the teaching staff and our children facilitates interaction and creates the basis upon which HoK understands education. A Reggio Emilia education is a process of cooperation between the child and the adult, with the task of the adult being to develop sensitive and supportive relationships with their students. We also believe the relationship with the parent is of paramount importance, because parents are the first educators of our students and are central to the learning community at HoK.
Furthermore, the Reggio Emilia approach allows for co-construction in the classroom; you will see wonderful interactions of students with teachers, wherein students freely discuss their experiences, knowledge, hypotheses, questions, or subjects. At this point, teachers engage in feedback with their students, sharing experiences, listening, observing, and interpreting–always ready to make changes and support our students in their discoveries.
I would recommend the Reggio Emilia system of education to any parent who wants to empower their child to be an active and confident learner, no matter who they are, where they are from, or what language they speak. Your child will learn to learn in a supportive, caring and vibrant environment where they will be free to flourish in their early years of life. Reggio Emilia has a powerful image of respect for children, and due to the core nature of that philosophy, it is continually evolving and staying relevant in our fast-changing society and shrinking world.
Photo: courtesy of House of Knowledge International School