Accreditation: Although schools can send representatives to Italy to study the Reggio Emilia system, there is no formal certification process for schools or teachers. Schools in Singapore will typically incorporate Reggio-Emilia principles into their teaching of an international curricula such as the IB PYP or the EYFS.
What is it? Reggio Emilia focuses on the educational importance of community and free inquiry (which often means learning through playing and activities) as its primary values, and as such shares many values with the better known Montessori framework.
Like Montessori, it's not a philosophy that results in a prescriptive (rule based) set of activities. Rather, it's an approach based around certain fundamental values about how children learn. Again, as with Montessori, often these values are interpreted very differently in different schools – which puts the onus on the parent to carefully examine how well the principals of the theory are put to practice.
The classroom is seen as the third educator and it should be a "studio" filled with materials such as clay, paint, and writing implements that allow hands on, investigative learning. Parent activities are included as part of the school curricula, and learning is well-documented using cameras, tape recorders, and journals to track children's thoughts and ideas as they play together or work with materials.
In Singapore, you’re most likely to find schools such as SMMIS following a pre-school curriculum that is inspired by the principles of Reggio Emilia. At the AIS and Stamford American Early Learning Village (ELV), teaching follows other international curricula, but the campus has a Reggio Emilia design; inspired by Reggio Emilia’s philosophy that “the environment becomes the third teacher”, the ELV features natural materials, living walls, multi-sensory resources, and plenty of greenery.
Pros: The emphasis here is hands-on discovery learning that allows the children to use all their senses, and children are encouraged to creative and not be afraid of making mistakes. For Singapore’s youngest leaners, Reggio Emilia takes a less structured and more imaginative approach to early years education.
Cons: There is no strict checklist of Reggio Emilia attributes so it will vary by school. Something to consider is if the school’s Reggio Emilia-play based approach will adequately prepare your child for the rigours and structure of primary school.
Schools offering Reggio Emilia include: Sir Manasseh Meyer International School, Stamford American Early Learning Village, AIS Early Learning Village, White Lodge Pre-schools, and Blue House Nursery & International School.