I think the Reggio Emilia Approach can seem a little overwhelming when you first start looking into it a bit more. How the approach works, why such a focus on the atelier (art studio) and the experiences that happen in there, the range of materials and how to use them, can all seem a little confusing.
However, it is really about how we view the child, how we view learning and how we view life; the connectedness of the three.
The child as capable, independent, inquisitive and innately driven to learn.
Learning as an experience, not separate from, but deeply rooted in life,
and life, the world around us, part of us, open and available for the children to explore and discover, to interact with, naturally.
Working, exploring, creating with real materials; discussing options, problem-solving, directing their own play, free to wonder, it all comes together and you can truly see the beauty in this approach.
The Reggio Emilia Approach is an early childhood approach intended for preschools. While the fundamental principles can be effectively applied to beyond this as well as for infants and toddlers, I have not really come across too many books which don’t focus on preschool settings. Saying this though, there are some which I would recommend. These are the books I refer to most often:
This book is fantastic. It tracks the journey of an American teacher who travelled to Reggio Emilia to study the approach and then returned to implement the principles in a group of American early childhood centres. It gives an excellent overview of the approach. It is a wordy book though with very few pictures.
This book is a bit wordy with few pictures but it is also an inspiring read. The book contains actual interviews with Loris Malaguzzi and so gives a thorough understanding of the Reggio Emilia Approach including the basic principles, thoughts on the importance of an Atelier, an explanation of the hundred languages, the importance of a child’s environment and listening and observing from a Reggio perspective.
As the name suggests, this books provides strategies for creating inspiring and engaging environments for children. While the pictures are a little dated, the information is still useful. This book (as well as the next dot point), for me, have been the most informative for applying the Reggio Emilia Approach, with lots of practical suggestions that can be transferred from the pre-school setting to the home.
While this book is intended for teachers, it very concisely explains how to create an engaging environment for children using Reggio-inspired principles.
This is the only book I have found which focusses on applying child-led explorations at home. While the book is a homeschooling guide for parents, you don’t need to be homeschooling to get enormous benefit from it. I would recommend buying this book. Personable and practical.
This book was first published back in 2001 and while the pictures are a little dated now the information in this book is still very inspiring and informative. Rapunzel’s Supermarket is not your typical children’s art book, it talks about shapes, colours, textures, light and shadow, as well as drawing, painting, clay and collage but from a perspective of discovery. If you have any questions about how to present Reggio-inspired art activities/experiences for your children then this book will fill you with inspiration. Check out the library for this book.
This book focusses on the role of art in the Reggio Emilia Approach. It gives a very thorough background to the importance of art in Reggio-inspired settings, the thinking behind it, as well as practical suggestions for creating an atelier (art area) in your own school (or home). The photos in this book, while a little dated, are very inspiring for understanding how Reggio focusses on art which makes learning visible as opposed to art activities or craft projects.
I have found this book very useful and inspiring. I am a novice when it comes to art and so this book has really helped me to understand different art mediums and processes and how to apply them in order to create an art experience. It introduces different art mediums like watercolour paints, oil pastels, chalk pastels, clay and loose parts as well as suggesting for presenting them to children. I really like this book. Worth purchasing.
This book really is intended for teachers in an educational setting. It provides small lessons for teachers to complete in a group situation. However the information that it provides is still useful. The book focusses on observing children, truly seeing them, and using these observations to guide the experiences you offer. The lessons, while intended for teachers, give you plenty of opportunity to practice you observation skills but mostly I liked how it gives strategies to use your observations effectively. Check out the library for this book.