The Whole Child Series - Introducing Reggio Emilia: Fostering Relationships

Claudia Cojocea

In the last PYP bulletin post, I introduced the Reggio Emilia approach by briefly highlighting its history and elaborating on one of its pillars; the image of the child.  In this post, since the emphasis on how the child is viewed as an individual has already been established, I would like to highlight how relationships are also a vital element in a Reggio-inspired program.  

When we talk about children, we know that their lives are influenced by the following relationships: 

·       their family, friends, and other children 

·       their school and the relationship between their home and school  

·       the community they live in 

·       the culture in which they are raised 

·        

Although all these relationships play a vital role in the development of the child, today we are going to focus on the relationship between the school and home, as well as their family.  

A strong relationship between the child and the school begins with the first interactions the family has with the program. This, of course, is usually the Early Years program at the school. In a Reggio-inspired program, the school regards the parent as a critical resource in caring for as well as understanding the child. The relationship is nurtured in the school, and it continues to build as the child progresses through the program. The family is regarded as an essential partner in the child’s journey at school. A network of communication exists between the children, parents, and teachers. These three protagonists work together to create the spirit of cooperation, collaboration, and co-construction of knowledge. They work together, interacting toward a common purpose: the building of a culture that respects childhood as a time to explore, create, and be joyful.  

 

What does this look like in a Reggio-inspired program?   

·       The parents are always welcome to come to school and inquire about their child’s development and growth. Teachers are always ready to provide time to share observations and dialogue with the parents about their child’s experiences at school.  

·       Families regularly receive documentation about their child’s experiences in the program. This may be done through pictorial documentation, emails, apps the family can privately access, and verbal exchanges with the family. Open communication is invited by the school, and communication flows both ways. 

·       The children can always find ‘pieces from home’ in their classroom. Whether it is a family picture, a plant, or any other item that they have brought from home to display in the classroom. Not to mention the ‘homey environment’ the teachers try to set up in their classrooms. 

·       The school finds unique ways to involve families in the child’s experiences at school. This may mean hosting an event where the families are invited, a family member visiting to share or demonstrate an expertise, or inviting families to attend a celebration of learning. 

·       Children are encouraged to learn through social encounters that not only involve their friends but also their teachers and other family members within their class community.  

 

In conclusion, the program works closely with families to make sure that the education and care the child is receiving are most beneficial to the child’s unique personality. 

 

Stay tuned for my next bulleting entry, as I will be talking about the environment as the third teacher.