Recent research and developments in early childhood education have led to curriculum innovations designed to transform the classroom into a learning environment that is more responsive to the varying learning needs and interests of young children. There is recognition of the need for memorable learning not simply memorized learning. Children are expected to work cooperatively on open-ended tasks as well as follow instructions in step-by-step learning processes. There is more emphasis in connecting home and school learning. As educators, we know that children have a much wider range of capabilities than they have usually been permitted to show in the traditional classroom. Further, as teachers of young children we know that children achieve a higher level of understanding if they have a vested interest in what they are doing.
It is this quest for innovative teaching techniques that has directed American educators to look to other nations’ policies and practices. One internationally acclaimed program is the public school early childhood program in Reggio Emilia, Italy. There is much about the Reggio Emilia approach that distinguishes it from other efforts to define best practices in early childhood education. Much of the worldwide attention has been on the program’s emphasis on children’s symbolic languages in the context of a project-oriented curriculum. Lovingly referred to as the Hundred Languages of Children, symbolic languages are defined as the many ways children may express their knowledge and desires through art work, conversation, dramatic play, music, dance and other expressive languages. The Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education is achieved through a carefully planned and collaborative process. To learn more about the Reggio Emilia Philosophy - click here.