Navigating Learning Disabilities and Special Education
The Reggio Emilia Approach
The Reggio Emilia model, named for the town in Italy where the concept originated, is a three-pronged approach to early childhood and primary education that has at its core the mandate that children have not only the need to learn, but the right to do so in a safe, caring environment. Learning unfolds through movement and integration of all the senses, and through their relationships with other people and the environment around them. The three tenets are:
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- Parent as first teacher. Parents are considered essential partners and collaborators, expected to take an active role in the education and well-being of their children, thereby contributing to the collective education and well-being of all the children in the school.
- Teacher as learner. The curriculum is not set in advance. Teachers observe the children closely, ask questions, learn about the children's ideas and theories, and direct activities accordingly. Teachers are considered partners with the children in learning and discovering.
- Environment as third teacher. Classrooms are organized to fully use space in a manner that enhances learning opportunities and integrates to the larger school, community, and surrounding natural world. Emphasis is on natural light and materials in the classroom, and, schoolwide, creating spaces that promote interaction.
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