Hong Kong has so many different schools, promoting a varied range of different learning styles and theories; preschoool choice is certainly intimidating for any prospective or current parent! To help you decide why the Reggio Emilia approach might be right for your child, we’ve compiled a list of 5 reasons why we love it:
1. Child Centred Learning
As any Reggio Emilia inspired school will tell you, we take great pride in the individuality of our students. For children of any age, learning is easier when the child is engaged and interested, so we work hard to make sure their individual interests are catered for. In particular, we adopt a flexible curriculum, led by the interests of the children we teach. This means we avoid long term, rigid curriculums developed for reuse year after year.
This is very different to the ‘norm’, where stencil-cut lesson plans can often roll over from year to year. By letting the child control what they learn, we offer them a chance to grow in self-confidence, as well as building the autonomy skills needed for later life.
2. The Teacher
By avoiding teacher-led instruction, the role of teachers in the Reggio Emilia approach is quite different. Whereas other learning approaches might have the teacher as the centre of the child’s learning, Reggio Emilia-inspired schools place the child at the centre, and the teacher as the support.
Reggio educators are constantly observing the children, and then reviewing and adapting their lessons to suit the interests of the students; making sure that the activities they do are age appropriate and purposeful in their opportunities for learning. This is what we do at Avendale.
3. The Environment
It’s a Reggio cliché to say that ‘the environment is the third teacher’, but it is absolutely right. Ever since its origins in rural post-war Italy, the Reggio Emilia approach has emphasised the need for a suitable environment for learning - one that is open, flexible, and rich with opportunities for a child’s expression.
Particular consideration is placed on nature, and the community in which the school is based. Avendale is no different, and we have worked to develop an environment suitable for 21st Century learning. During day-to-day learning, classrooms are free-flowing, clean and constantly changing - providing a range of opportunities for learning through interaction with teachers and collaboration with classmates.
Documentation takes many different forms, from the videos and pictures sent home to the photos used to decorate the classroom. In the classroom itself, the students contribute to the decoration by displaying projects and art works they themselves have created. Teachers print off photos of the students as they engage with a project, and put them alongside the finished product on the wall. This is particularly important because the students can review their own contributions, and use these experiences to further their learning in the future.
Whereas most schools display the finished products on the wall, not every school puts photos of the children with them. At Avendale, we take great interest in the process of learning, so our classrooms are filled with photos of the students, making sure that the children can see how their actions contributed to the decoration of the school. This is the same in every Reggio school, and enables students to feel a sense of ownership over what the class creates.
5. Family and Community Focused.
There is so much more to education than just the child and the teacher - especially at kindergarten level. Instead, the world around a child plays a huge role in their development as well. At Avendale, as with other Reggio Emilia-inspired schools, the family and wider community play an integral role in our approach to teaching.
The community around any Reggio school is a part of the fabric of the school- where all parties work together to contribute to the child’s learning. At Avendale, parents are often consulted about how their child learns at home and what their interests are. Parents are also welcome to take part in numerous class activities, from school parties to family picnics.