Searching for a preschool can be a challenging endeavor to say the least. Underlying the many questions that you ask as you are evaluating preschools is the desire to find a nurturing environment where your child will thrive and learn. Preschools that follow the Reggio Emilia philosophy of early childhood education are innovative in the way that they create such environments. Parents in the San Diego area are lucky because there are a number of quality early childhood programs either based upon or inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach. Knowing more about the approach and knowing what to look for when you visit preschools will help you find the one that is the best fit for your child.
A school needs to be a place for all children, not based on the idea that they’re all the same, but that they’re all different.
The Reggio Emilia approach began in the 1940s when a community located in the town of Reggio Emilia in northern Italy, along with schoolteacher Loris Malaguzzi, began building a preschool for their children. Following the destruction of their area during World War II, the community came together to build their schools with the desire to raise a new generation of citizens committed to justice and equality. And it was a true community effort. A local farmer donated land for the structure, and townspeople – men and women – donated their time and labor to build the school using materials from the ruins of their village. This idea of coming together as a community for the sake of the children is at the very core of the Reggio Emilia approach today.
Schools that follow the Reggio Emilia philosophy of education build their programs on the following principles:
• An emergent curriculum that builds upon the interests of children
• In-depth projects that are long term and built upon the concepts, ideas, and interests of the group
• Representation in multiple forms (print, art, construction, drama, music, puppetry, and shadow play) as tools for development
• Collaboration among home, school and community
• Teacher as learner, researcher, resource and guide
• Documentation of children’s work into portfolios
• An environment that plays a crucial role as the third teacher
A key tenet of the Reggio Emilia approach is that art helps children express their thoughts. Reggio classrooms are packed with a profusion of innovative materials for the children to work with, such as pebbles, dried orange peel, driftwood, tangles of wire and tin cans. “The environment as the third teacher” is a favorite Reggio phrase.
The Reggio Emilia Approach in San Diego
If you are searching for a preschool program in the San Diego area that follows the Reggio Emilia approach, you might quickly become overwhelmed. The San Diego Reggio Roundtable, a group of early childhood educators and parents who promote the Reggio philosophy, comes to the rescue with the following alphabetical list of schools and centers that appear on their website.
Aspirations School of Learning
College Park Preschool
Cuyamaca College Child Development Center
Grossmont College Child Development Center
Hanna Fenichel Center
La Jolla United Methodist Church Nursery School
The Little School
Rancho Bernardo Community Presbyterian Church Preschool
Southwestern College Child Development Center