Learning through play – The Reggio Emilia Approach

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Using play as a medium of learning is an integral part of the Reggio Emilia approach. Sreeja Iyer tells us more.

When I look at children playing I’m always amused. Every single ingredient of deep learning is right there within their reach and yet, we deprive children of play in learning.

When children experience learning through play in our Reggio-Emilia inspired classroom, they experience a learning that is truly joyous, wholesome and connected to their day to day life. A learning that has reason and meaning for the child is worth their time and a natural interest is developed in exploring, imagining and interacting with the materials, nature and everything around them.

Within the Reggio experience lie some deep values in the way that we work with children. We truly respect children as inspired, imaginative and capable individuals no matter how young they are. They are not treated as empty vessels who need to be filled with knowledge.

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For us, they are curious beings who are very eager to learn and we as facilitators inspire and take their learning forward in an emergent way. We had one of our 2-year-olds, Rayaan, in an exploratory mood. He picked up a glue stick that was sitting on one of the open shelves and was walking around the room with it. First he tried it on his hand, then on his shirt, next on the wall, then the plastic table and then the wooden door and a cloth that was part of our play element.

He came triumphantly to the facilitator and handed over the glue stick. It seemed as if he was playing and exploring glue and its stickiness on different surfaces. He seemed to be figuring out different textures and how the glue felt in his hand. This was an invitation to play for us to put together a lot of different kinds of surfaces and textures for children to stick and explore together.

For us everyday is an invitation to play and no two classrooms or days or years look the same. It is the path and way in which truly inspirational learning happens and each child grows to develop their own unique voice and individuality.

As a teacher, school and a parent you can start integrating Reggio into your work with children in small ways and go forward from there. It is okay to start with baby steps and include more elements as you go.

Watch this space for more tips on how to use the Reggio way with children.

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