The Reggio Emilia approach is an educational philosophy that originated in Northern Italy at the end of the late nineteenth century. Current infant and preschool centers, inspired by this approach, believe that children are curious and learn from their environment, peers, and adults. 

The following principles guide the Reggio Emilia approach: the image of the child, hundred languages, collaboration, environment, role of teacher, emergent curriculum, projects, and documentation.

Image of the Child

Children are curious and want to learn about their world by connecting with their environment and the people that surround them. Young children have great potential and specific interests that teachers and parents can support and extend.

Hundred Languages

The Hundred Languages is a concept that symbolizes how children communicate with words, their bodies, artwork, and many other ways. This means that educators and parents should encourage children to express themselves in many ways to discover and learn.


The Reggio Emilia approach believes children learn in collaboration with and connection to others. Children, families, and teachers come together in small- and large groups to communicate, negotiate, problem-solve, and discover.


The environment, or the classroom, has been considered the “third teacher” because its organization and purposeful activities ensure that children’s discovery and learning are supported. This happens through realistic, natural furnishings, daily schedules, and balanced child-directed and teacher-initiated experiences.

Role of Teacher

Teachers nurture children’s development, guide learning experiences, and partner with children to help them problem solve, explore, and discover. Teachers also observe, listen, and document children’s progress and advocate for them at the school and in the community.

Emergent Curriculum

The curriculum is based on children’s interests. Teachers listen to and observe children’s interactions to plan activities and projects. They ask the children and their families questions to determine best what to focus on and explore more in-depth.


Projects allow children to spend more time learning about a concept of interest. These projects can be short-term (e.g., one week) or long-term (e.g., several months). It is important that the project is hands-on and engaging for the children.


Teachers document children’s work by video/audio recording, photographing, transcribing, and preserving artwork in various mediums. This helps teachers to identify children’s strengths and interests and to plan future activities.