Reggio Emilia

Since 1996, Lincoln School faculty and administration have been developing programming influenced by pre-schools in Reggio Emilia, Italy. With funding from the Rhode Island Foundation, Lincoln School began researching the Reggio Emilia approach through visiting existing Reggio Emilia programs in the United States. Additional professional development for faculty was supported by Lincoln School, allowing them to attend delegation days at the St. Louis Collaborative, to view the 100 Languages of Children Exhibit and to visit the schools of Reggio Emilia. Since these early beginnings, Lincoln has transformed its environment, built a collaborative atmosphere where teachers can pursue research projects within their classrooms, added staff and created a studio. Lincoln School has been a visiting site for the New England Kindergarten Conference, and has hosted educators from all over the world. As part of our ongoing community outreach, we participate in the North American Reggio Emilia Association.

Guiding Principles

[From Bringing Reggio Home by Louise Cadwell, Teacher College Press, 1997]

• The child as a protagonist. Children are curious and interested in constructing their learning, negotiating with everything their environment brings to them;

• The child as a collaborator. Education focuses on each child in relation to other children, the family, the teachers and the community, rather than each child in isolation;

• The environment as a third teacher. The design and use of space encourages encounters, communication, and relationships;

• The teacher as a researcher. Teachers document their work with children, whom they also consider researchers;

• The parent as a partner. The exchange of our collective wisdom broadens our understanding of each child.

The Environment

In Lincoln School’s early childhood classrooms, plants, mirrors and light set the tone in each space. Children’s work may be in many stages of completion because we understand that children need to revisit projects and think deeply about the process. We also believe that a child’s work holds theories that explain their interpretations of events. You will notice teachers taking notes as their students draw, or paint, or talk. Teachers gather data, such as the effect of small group learning on social dynamics, which in turn informs instruction. We are challenged to stretch our understanding of young children and how they view the world. In 1998 a studio teacher was added to the early childhood faculty. Studio space began as a corner of a classroom but within a year occupied its own space. The schedule is designed to allow for small group work both in the classrooms and in the studio. Today, no more than eight children work in the studio at one time. We also made the decision to use materials from the natural world such as paint and clay, in addition to recycled materials. The children use authentic tools and carefully store materials so that they are able to revisit projects often. Collaborative works, such as sculpture, mobiles and collage are very much part of the environment.

Image of the Child through Documentation

Documentation is a way of making listening and thinking visible. For teachers, documentation is a way to re-listen, re-see and re-visit the work of children. This act of reflection is central for professional and program development. For children, it offers an opportunity for reflection, self assessment, socio-assessment and remembering. For parents, it provides a window into how children learn and view the world.