Parents are greatly valued in the Municipal Infant-Toddler Centres and Preschools in Reggio Emilia and are an integral part of the learning community. They contribute thoughts, skills, advice and possibilities in relation to learning and teaching and there is a great commitment in the schools to sharing the children’s experiences at school with parents through documentation, meetings and celebrations.
Those working in Reggio Emilia inspired contexts in Australia also greatly value the perspectives and contributions of parents to the learning community. Parents are welcomed into the educational spaces, invited to share their ideas and skills and join their children in their learning journey.
'My family'. Lilly (Pope Road Kindergarten, Melbourne)
Finding the right early childhood centre or school for your child
In Australia one of the many challenges of being a parent is choosing a childcare centre, pre-school or school for your child. Many parents agonise over these decisions and wonder what might be the best setting for their child. Parents who are familiar with the Reggio Emilia Educational Project and believe a school or centre inspired by this philosophy would be a good choice for their child often want to know where these places are located in Australia. Unfortunately there is no simple answer!
The Reggio Emilia approach to education is not a recipe or a model, and many different interpretations are possible. Reggio Children hope that schools and centres in Australia will interpret the work of Reggio Emilia in their own ways, according to their context and the community they are working with. Schools and centres will also be at different stages in their exploration of the principles of Reggio Emilia. What does this mean then for a parent researching options for a Reggio Emilia inspired educational experience for their child?
REAIE encourages parents to look first at local possibilities. You may find that there is a centre/school near to you that does not profess to deliver a Reggio Emilia inspired program but in fact reflects many of the principles advocated by Reggio Emilia educators. You may also find that a centre/school near you provides a high quality education to children and you may be able to encourage the teachers there to begin to explore or make connections to the Reggio Emilia understanding of education. On the down side, there are schools that use ‘Reggio Emilia’ as a brand or marketing tool without actually expressing the philosophy in their teaching and learning.
While it is not possible to recommend particular schools or early childhood centres, the following questions and suggestions may help parents in their research for a 'Reggio inspired' educational setting for their child.