Questions to ask when considering a ‘Reggio-inspired’ Early Learning Centre or School
Firstly, do you know about the Reggio Emilia Educational Project in Italy?
If yes, ask:
- What does a Reggio-inspired curriculum mean to you? What does this look like at your centre/school? Why do you choose to work in a Reggio-inspired way?
- How do the ideas of Reggio Emilia make your programme special/different to others?
- What does ‘image of the child‘ mean to you?
- What is your image of a teacher?
- How is the children’s learning documented? How is this documentation available to parents? Can I see an example of a child’s portfolio?
- What sorts of relationships do you hope to have with parents? Are parents invited to participate in the children’s programme at times? How?
- What role does the environment play in children’s learning?
- How do you encourage children to collaborate?
- How is time structured or organised in your centre? Why?
- Can you tell me about a project that you have undertaken with the children? How were the children involved? Did they choose to be involved? Can any child be involved at anytime?
- How do you encourage the children to explore the hundred languages?
- Have any of your staff been to Reggio Emilia? Or to a REAIE conference? Are any of your staff REAIE members?
- What sorts of professional learning opportunities/experiences do you encourage staff to undertake?
If no, ask:
- What things are important to you in your learning environment?
- What does the learning program at your centre involve?
- What are children at your centre capable of? How are children challenged to explore their world? Are children regularly encouraged to collaborate in your centre/school? How?
- In what ways do you listen to the children? In what ways are children encouraged to express their ideas and theories in your centre?
- How do you make links between the children’s prior experiences/knowledge and their experiences at this centre/school?
- How is time structured or organised in your centre/school? Why?
- How do you communicate the children’s experiences and learning to parents? How are parents able to be involved in this centre/school?
- What choices have you made about the learning environment? Why have you decided to set up your centre/school in this way?
What sorts of answers might you be looking for?
The answers to these questions will vary according to the context and the experiences of the teachers you talk to. Look for evidence of these values and practices:
- see the children as strong, capable, competent, creative and curious
- are interested in and listen deeply to what the children have to say/are communicating
- believe children bring valuable experiences, theories, knowledge, skills and questions to school with them
- are committed to sharing the children’s learning with parents and the community
- ask questions and reflect upon their decisions
- value skill acquisition but not in isolation or at the expense of exploration of knowledge, concepts, theories, questions and collaboration
- place importance on understanding the children’s process of constructing knowledge whilst uncovering the necessary skills and abilities that pertain to the learning engagement
- recognise that there are many ways of thinking, knowing, understanding, expressing and being
- are committed to research within their centre/school and community
- seem passionate about children and their learning
- are seen as individuals within a group
- are encouraged to share their experiences, ideas, theories, curiosities
- are encouraged to explore their ideas and theories with other children
- are encouraged to ask questions at any time and to be researchers
- communicate in many different ways and forms
- are encouraged to explore and express their ideas and theories in many ways
- are given time to explore ideas and theories, and develop skills, and this is not usually dependent on strict timetable restriction
- are valued by the centre/school as members of a learning community
- are encouraged to question, experience, contribute and embrace the learning taking place at the centre/school
- are encouraged to share skills and knowledge with the learning community
- are encouraged to celebrate the learning of the children with the entire community
- shows that children are valuable and respected
- There is joy!
- Relationships and learning through relationships underpin all of the above!