Reggio Emilia Approach

Columbus School for Girls is one of only a handful of schools in the entire United States that offers the progressive, “Reggio inspired” child-centered approach to early childhood education. It provides a happy, collaborative solution to educating your preschool-age child.


Reggio Emilia grew out of the aftermath of World War II by a young teacher, Loris Malaguzzi (1920-1994), and parents in the villages around Reggio Emilia in Italy. They believed that their children were in need of a new way of learning. They began asking questions that provoked deep thought about the purpose of education and the role of a school. Malaguzzi and members of the community drew on many philosophies and educational theories as they developed the new approach, which became known as Reggio Emilia.

What is Reggio Emilia?

Now an international movement, at the heart of the Reggio philosophy is the belief that children are strong, competent, and born ready to learn. Children form their own personality during early years of development and are endowed with "a hundred languages" through which they can express their ideas. The aim of this approach is teaching how to use symbolic languages (e.g. painting, sculpting, and drama) in everyday life. And the approach values the ability of children to learn spontaneously. Children are encouraged to dialogue, critique, compare, negotiate, hypothesize, and problem solve through collaborative group work, both large and small, which is valuable and necessary to advance cognitive development. Within the Reggio Emilia approach, multiple perspectives promote both a sense of group membership and the uniqueness of self. Thus, the relationship of child, parent, and teacher is integral to a child’s development.

What are the fundamental principles?

The program is based on the principles of respect, responsibility, and community through exploration and discovery in a supportive and enriching environment based on the interests of the children through a self-guided curriculum.

Children are at the center of the educational process.

Reggio Emilia recognizes that children are born not as empty vessels but full of possibilities and potential to think, learn, and construct knowledge. Children are naturally curious, they are searching for meaning as they make connections from what they know and have experienced to the new and yet unexplored. Each child must be free to discover and learn for herself, using all of her senses.

Our teachers are researchers.

Teachers observe and learn from the children as well. The prime methodology is to listen to all that children say through their bodies, their art, their movement, their eyes, their hands, and their silences. Rather than giving children answers, teachers expand the questions. The teachers then respond to the concepts by incorporating them into their classrooms. Teachers are to provoke, co-construct, and stimulate thinking and children's collaboration with peers. Teachers are committed to reflection about their own teaching and learning. By this process, each children’s potential is more fully realized.

The environment is an important teaching component.

The Reggio Emilia approach has a saying, "the environment is the third teacher." CSG’s Program for Young Children has embraced this belief by planning our environment with intent. Step into Columbia House and you will see all materials, routines, and activities in each classroom have been purposefully selected to provide opportunities for our students to grow, learn, and develop.

The teacher, parent, and child are collaborators.

The Reggio Emilia approach views parent participation as essential for building the safe and secure school community necessary for children's active learning. Our parents are collaborators in their girl’s educational journey and are involved in community activities. As a result, each of our PYC classes form exceptionally strong bonds and a sense of community unlike any other school in Central Ohio.

Documentation of children's work is viewed as an important tool in understanding children’s learning and their process of learning. CSG teachers use a variety of media, including photographs, daily journals, videos, and displays to make the children’s learning visible to the families. Our goal is give an authentic picture of each child’s development: socially/emotionally, cognitively and physically.

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