"Reggio Emilia is based upon the following set of principles:
Children must have some control over the direction of their learning;
Children must be able to learn through experiences of touching, moving, listening, and observing;
Children have a relationship with other children and with material items in the world that they must be allowed to explore;
Children must have endless ways and opportunities to express themselves.
Community support and parental involvement
Parents are a vital component to the Reggio Emilia philosophy; they are viewed as partners, collaborators, and advocates for their children. Teachers respect parents as each child's first teacher and involve parents in every aspect of the curriculum when possible.
Long-term projects as vehicles for learning
The curriculum is characterized by many features advocated by contemporary research on young children, including real-life problem-solving among peers, with numerous opportunities for creative thinking and exploration. Teachers often work on projects with small groups of children, while the rest of the class engages in a wide variety of self-selected activities typical of preschool classrooms.
Projects begin with teachers observing and questioning children about the topic of interest. Based on children's responses, teachers introduce materials, questions, and opportunities that provoke children to further explore the topic. While some of these teacher provocations are anticipated, projects often move in unanticipated directions as a result of problems children identify.
Thus, curriculum planning and implementation revolve around open-ended and often long-term projects that are based on the reciprocal nature of teacher-directed and child-initiated activity. All of the topics of interest are given by the children. Within the project approach, children are given opportunities to make connections between prior and new knowledge while engaging in authentic tasks. This does not limit the teacher's responsibility of meeting specific learning standards or benchmarks. Emergent learning fosters deeper, more enriched learning experiences, while addressing such standards and benchmarks along the way.
The hundred languages of children...
The term "hundred languages of children" refers to the many ways that children have of expressing themselves. Reggio teachers provide children different avenues for thinking, revising, constructing, negotiating, developing and symbolically expressing their thoughts and feelings. The goal is for the adults and children to better understand one another.
The role of the environment...
The physical environment is considered to be of fundamental importance to the Reggio Emelia-inspired, early childhood program.
One of the aims in the design of new spaces - and the redesign of existing ones - is integration of the classroom space with the surrounding environment: the rest of the school, and community the school is a part of.
The importance of the environment lies in the belief that children can best create meaning and make sense of their world through environments which support "complex, varied, sustained, and changing relationships between people, the world of experience, ideas and the many ways of expressing ideas."
Classrooms open to a center piazza, kitchens are open to view, and access to the outside and surrounding community is provided through courtyards, large windows, and exterior doors in each classroom.
Other supportive elements of the environment include ample space for supplies, frequently rearranged to draw attention to their aesthetic features. In each classroom there are studio spaces in the form of a large, centrally located atelier and/or a smaller mini-atelier, and clearly designated spaces for large- and small-group activities. Throughout the school, there is an effort to create opportunities for children to interact.
Groups of students stay with one teacher for a three-year period, when applicable, creating consistency in environment and relationships." (Wikipedia)