What Is the Reggio Emilia Approach?

The Reggio Emilia approach is a teaching philosophy that encourages children’s natural curiosity and learning through a playful, integrated, enriching environment. This approach fosters a unique reciprocal relationship between the teacher and the child, where children are active participants in their own learning.

A Reggio Emilia preschool has great faith in children.  It uses play- and inquiry-based learning strategies in which children feel challenged and engaged. In this way, they make sense of their environment and develop cognitive and problem-solving abilities that support them throughout their lives.

The Family, The School & The Environment

In Reggio Emilia, the word “educator” encompasses the teacher, the child, and the environment.

The teacher provides the tools, materials, and resources to cultivate and enrich a child’s curiosity. At Pathways, we recognize that not all children learn the same way. Followers of the Howard Gardner theory, we believe that children have 100 languages and learn in countless ways. The teacher’s role is supporting the child’s natural desire to learn, in ways that speak to that particular child. Pathways’ teachers value the children’s ideas, allowing them to make mistakes. They exercise caution when choosing whether to intervene or allow the child to work out the solution on their own.

Children engage with their environment in ways that interest and inspire them. The teacher observes the child interacting with their environment, learning from the child during the process. They then collaborate with other teachers, sharing their observations and planning projects and provocations to help inspire the child’s learning.

The environment includes a wide array of items to stimulate the child’s curiosity and sense of wonder. A Reggio-inspired preschool is nurturing and homey, a welcoming place for students.

Provocation and the Reggio Emilia Approach

Pathways’ teachers collaborate to develop in-depth projects commonly referred to as provocations, so named because they “provoke” the child’s curiosity and desire to learn. After filling the learning environment with materials and possibilities, teachers allow the children to explore those items that pique their interest.

The teacher’s observations inform their next steps. This includes asking the children questions and recording their responses, documenting their learning.

Teachers rely on a variety of methods to document children’s growth in the Reggio Emilia classroom. This may include photographs of the child as they learn and play, video and tape recordings of the child’s thoughts and feelings, and project portfolios.

Documentation helps teachers track both the child and the teacher’s own growth. In addition, it supports the teacher’s understanding of what does and doesn’t work for the child. It also supports collaboration with other teachers and the child’s at-home caregivers.

Pathways Preschool and the Reggio Emilia Approach

At Pathways Preschool, we have great faith in the potential and possibility in all children. We are committed to implementing the philosophies of the Reggio Emilia approach as well as new, innovative methods that respect the value of play-based learning. If you would like to learn more about our education philosophy or to tour our facility, call (480) 590-3300 or complete our contact form.


  • Teachers and children are partners in learning
  • Family participation in the child’s learning
  • The 100 Languages is a belief that children use many ways to show their understanding and express their thoughts and creativity
  • Reggio Emilia schools create homelike environments
  • Children can construct their own learning
  • Children are communicators
  • The environment is the third teacher
  • An emphasis on documenting children’s thoughts
  • Project-based learning: a child-led project approach
  • Successful projects are those that provoke children’s creative thinking and problem-solving and are open to different avenues of exploration
  • This approach to learning requires on-the-fly thinking and reflects their views of the world
  • Environments are set up to entice the children to explore and experiment, participate in debate and discussion, and construct what they are imagining and verbalizing
  • Maximize each child’s social, emotional, physical, cognitive, and creative abilities.