Inspired by Italian Approaches to Early Childhood Education
We have found inspiration in the early childhood schools
of Reggio Emilia, Italy. The Reggio Emilia schools have been recognized worldwide for their
care of young children and their commitment to excellence. In describing the early childhood schools in Reggio Emilia, noted psychologist and theorist Howard Gardner says:
"The Reggio system...is a collection of schools for young children in whch each child's intellectual, emotional, social, and moral potentials are carefully cultivated and guided. The principal educational vehicle involves youngsters in long-term engrossing projects, which are carried out in beautiful, healthy, love-filled settings...Reggio epitomizes for me an education that is effective and humane; its students undergo a sustained apprenticeship in humanity, one which may last a lifetime."
Please click here to see an article describing the approach and a project at Fort Hill.
We are fortunate that Smith College
has a professional connection with Pistoia, Italy, where the philosophy and practice of the
early childhood schools are similar to those of Reggio Emilia.
Loris Malaguzzi was the founder of the Reggio Emilia Approach. His words reflect the foundation of our curriculum:
"The wider the range of possibilities we offer children, the more
intense will be their motivations and the richer their experiences. We
must widen the range of topics and goals, the types of situations we
offer and their degree of structure, the kinds and combinations of
resources and materials, and the possible interactions with things,
peers, and adults."
Our curriculum recognizes the
importance of relationships for the well-being of young children. Within the context
of supportive relationships, the curriculum emphasizes child-initiated problem-solving, long-term
investigations, and prosocial behavior. Teachers are constantly trying to understand and consider
what the children know about their world and help them to form new hypotheses through ongoing
exploration of a subject. We help children develop a love of learning as they come to appreciate
themselves as learners. The materials in the classrooms reflect our interest in the natural
world and recycled materials.
We strongly support children in acquiring a set of fundamental
concepts and skills as well as the habits of mind and heart that enable them to understand
and operate in their world as effective problem-solvers and responsible community
To see an excerpt from our Student Handbook, which details our approach to guidance, interactions and the environment, please click here.
"The season of curiousity is everlasting
and the hour for adventure never ends,"