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Our Curriculum Philosophy

The Reggio Emilia Approach

At the Burlington Children's Space, we are inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach, a style of teaching and curriculum planning that centers the child.



In the town of Reggio Emilia, Italy, educators, parents and citizens have worked together for over 30 years to create a system for preschool education. The founding teacher was visionary scholar Loris Malaguzzi. He combined the theories and practices of Bruno Ciari, Jerome Bruner, Jean Piaget, Howard Gardner and others including practices of the Progressive Education Movement from the United States. Malguzzi developed an extraordinary way for children to reach unexpected levels of learning and cooperation with others. People from all over the world have traveled to Reggio Emilia to discover how they might adapt this wonderful system to their own early education environments.


Following World War II, the town of Reggio Emilia was virtually destroyed. There were no physical facilities for the care and education of young children. Because increasing numbers of mothers entered the work force at this time, the community developed a program for infants through preschool. The town began rebuilding and parents constructed a school for their children. Parents naturally became active in developing the education program, having built it from the ground up. The resulting program was supported by the city in several schools and infant care centers, and emphasized the strength of communication and interaction between parents, teachers and children.

Key Elements of Approach

  • The child is strong, rich and powerful.

  • The child is social and able to express interests and ideas, research for further information, reflect on the experience and form conclusions.

  • Learning is an adventure. The curriculum is negotiated between teachers, students and parents.

  • Education is based on relationships, exchange and communication.

  • Environments teach beauty and richness.

  • The adult (teacher or parent/guardian) is a guide, provocateur, researcher, facilitator and memory.

  • Emergent curriculum is an in-depth way to study a particular topic of interest. This “thread” or interest area can provide experiences in math, art, science, language, social students and music based on the developmental needs and abilities of the children, as teachers and children reflect together as co collaborators.

  • Documentation is a way to display children’s thoughts, ideas, reflections or actual growth as they construct knowledge or study a thread over time.


More Reggio Resources

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