In our journey as the Junior team we are an Reggio Emilia
inspired school. We use The ECE curriculum, TeWhariki and the
NZC. We use all the “normal” assessments including completing
the 5 year entry test for new students. However this does not
drive our Teaching and Learning. We are inspired by the work of
ECE centres, and parents as the First teachers along with
The Reggio Emilia Approach originated in the town (and
surrounding areas) of Reggio Emilia in Italy out of a movement
towards progressive and cooperative early childhood education.
It is unique to Reggio Emilia, it is not a method, there are no
international training colleges to train to be a Reggio Emilia
teacher. Outside of the town of Reggio Emilia, all schools and
preschools (and home schools) are Reggio-inspired, using an
adaptation of the approach specific to the needs of their
community. This is important as each student, teacher, parent,
community, and town are different. No two Reggio-inspired
communities should look the same as the needs and interests of
the children within each community will be different. Part of the
reason for this is that we are not in Italy we are in NZ and as
such our cultural influence is reflected in a different way again.
Fundamental Principles that we have made our
Children are capable of constructing their own
Children are views as strong, rich and capable; as having
preparedness, potential, curiosity, and interest in constructing
their learning, negotiating with everything their environment
brings to them. They are driven by their interests to understand
and know more. We begun by making decisions about our
curriculum demands based on children‟s interest rather than on a
predetermined weekly theme. Setting daily goals and reflecting
on them at the end of the day have become something that we
value. A great way to have parents involved in what their child
has learnt that day as they come to the “campfire” to pick up their
kids and will hear the discussion.
Children form an understanding of themselves and
their place in the world through their interactions with
There is a strong focus on social collaboration, working in
groups, where each child is an equal participant, having their
thoughts and questions valued. The adult is not the giver of
knowledge. Children search out the knowledge through their own
investigations. This is where our project work comes in see
attatched examples. Both student and teacher trackers.
The child as communicator and collaborator
Communication is a process, a way of discovering things, asking
questions, using language as play. Playing with sounds and
rhythm and rhyme; delighting in the process of
communicating. Children are encouraged to use language to
investigate and explore, to reflect on their experiences. They are
listened to with respect, believing that their questions and
observations are an opportunity to learn and search together. It
is a process, a continual process. A collaborative process rather
than the child asking a question and the adult offering the
answers. The search is undertaken together.
The environment is the third teacher
The environment is recognised for its potential to inspire
children. An environment filled with natural light, order and
beauty. Open spaces free from clutter, where every material is
considered for its purpose, every corner is ever-evolving to
encourage children to delve deeper and deeper into their
interests. The space encourages collaboration, communication
and exploration. The space respects children as capable by
providing them with authentic materials & tools. Also similarly to
Montessori, the space is cared for by the children and the adults.
For many projects this was the starting point. The desire was to
make the rooms more home-like, and more beautiful. Storage
space for long-term projects is a challenge. So is wall space for
documentation. Time is a significant element also. We have
slowed down the pace, provided larger blocks of time for
children, and revisited earlier ideas rather than moving on to
something new. We are not constricted to term plans. Currently
this is our team of teachers goal to learn how to develop rich
learning areas that will provoke a project of learning.
The adult is a mentor and guide
Our role as adults is to observe (our) children, listen to their
questions and their stories, find what interests them and then
provide them with opportunities to explore these interests further.
Reggio Emilia takes a child-led project approach. The projects
aren‟t planned in advanced, they emerge based on the child‟s
The teacher as researcher.
As a team of 3 experience teachers in one space we work to
maintain strong, collegial relationships with each other. We
engage in continuous discussion and interpretation of our work
and the work of the children. These exchanges provide ongoing
training and theoretical enrichment. Teachers see themselves
as researchers/learners. We are advisors/coaches and
supporters of others leading in the teaching role. We seek to
upskill ourselves in setting both team and individual goals.
These goals are collaborative and targeted certainly not
Junior team goals are professional readings in Reggio,
Developing the 3rd
teacher space – both indoor and outdoor
spaces. What/How should our documentation of our children‟s
learning be recorded and shared?
An emphasis on documenting children‟s
In Reggio and Reggio-inspired settings that there is an emphasis
on carefully displaying and documenting children‟s thoughts and
progression of thinking; making their thoughts visible in many
different ways: photographs, transcripts of children‟s thoughts
and explanations, visual representations (drawings, sculptures
etc.) all designed to show the child‟s learning process.
This remains a team goal.
The parent as partner
Parent participation is considered essential and takes many forms.
Parents play an active role in their children‟s learningexperience.The
ideas and skills that the families bring to the school and, even more
important the exchange of ideas between parents and teachers,
favour the development of a new way of educating, which helps
teachers to view the participation of the families not as a threat but as
an instrinsic element of collegiality and as the integration of different
wisdoms. Thinking therefore that if you have an open door policy
then take full advantage of parents been available to take workshops
and support in the classroom as oppose to been locked away filing
books. Far more powerful to be working alongside parents.
Some practical tips:
Setting up a Reggio-inspired Activity
Start with a question
Reggio inspired activities are about exploration and discovery;
exploring with their senses, asking questions, testing theories,
making plans and thinking deeply.
When you are setting up a provocation (an inquiry or
discovery activity) have a think about some of the questions your
child has been asking lately. What have they been wondering
▪ They might ask you straight up, „Why does my shadow stick
to me?„ or
▪ theymight say a statement, ‟Hey Mummy, look at my shadow
when I wave my arms.„ or
▪ you may just notice them doing something intently, like playing
with their shadow.
This is your cue, your opportunity to provide an experience
which will engage their interests.
From there, get some idea of what your child already knows
about the subject. Depending on their age you can do a
brainstorm where you discuss what you know and make a mind
map. For younger children, what they understand will probably
come through in their play, drawings and paintings.
Make notes of these as well as any misconceptions they may
have, this will help you to plan an activity/inquiry that really
relates to what your child knows or wants to know.
Plan your activity
Now thinking about what they want to know and what
they already know, you can start to plan your activity/inquiry.
Is your activity going to be an observation like our Snail inquiry?
▪ A sensory exploration like this large painting activity? Or this
scented discovery basket?
▪ Exploring a new material/art medium like this exploration of
paint? Or this one with clay?
▪ An observational painting or drawing activity like this one of
van Gogh‟s Starry Night?
▪ A discovery activity like this nature walk?
Gather your materials
Now you can start gathering your materials. What you will
need will depend on what you are exploring. If it‟s something real
(in nature or around the neighbourhood), then head out for a
walk if you can to explore the real thing.
Connect the activity to your child‟s interests
‘You were asking about ant nests yesterday. Let’s go for a walk
and see if we can find some.’ Take along a notebook and pencil
for sketching, a bag to carry any treasures and go explore.
Listen to what your child is talking about, notice what they are
doing, these little clues will help you to continue the exploration
when you get home.
Presenting an Activity (A Provocation)
As much as possible, try to include natural materials in your
activity. Natural materials are not only beautiful, they appeal
deeply to our senses; their colour, texture, smell and even taste
are far more engaging than plastic alternatives. Baskets and
bowls as well as glass vases can be picked up inexpensively at
▪ cane baskets
▪ wooden bowls
▪ wooden trays
▪ flowers and plants
▪ leaves, pinecones, sticks, rocks
How does the activity look?
When you are arranging an activity, think about how the
▪ Does it make you want to play too?
▪ Would you be attracted to this activity?
▪ Can you see everything that is available?
▪ Do you have some idea of what you might do with this activity?
Define your work area
Next, define the work area. When you define the work area with
a mat or a tray you draw your child‟s attention in, they will move
to that area. Try using:
▪ A small cloth placemat like the one in the math provocation
▪ A hard surface for building with blocks
▪ A mirror like in this observational painting activity
Gather and group your materials
Then, group your materials around your work area. Use
wooden trays or baskets to keep similar materials together.
Pinterest – Reggio
Google some preschools and Primary schools who are inspired
Contact me for further referrals