The Three “Teachers” in the Reggio Emilia Approach

We recognize parents/guardians as the first teacher, classroom teachers as the second, and the environment as the third.

Posted: December 21, 2022

Inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach 

Our Reggio Emilia-inspired approach is present throughout our entire PreK-12 experience. This is unique! More often than not, Reggio-inspired programs don’t go beyond early childhood.

Parents as the first teacher…

We recognize parents/guardians as the first teacher, who know their children best and are engaged with the school in their ongoing learning and development. Parents/guardians engage in four conferences throughout the year, one before the school year even begins – the intake conference. This is where the parents share all about their child, what they love about them, what makes them tick, and the goals they have for their child in the coming year.

Too often, conferences and communication become more infrequent in schools as students reach middle school (when children may share less and less with their parent/guardian). At Bennett, we work hard to build, maintain, and nurture this family-school partnership in healthy ways that still support the students’ independence in these years.

Parents as the first teacher

Faculty as the second teacher…

To truly deliver on our program, our faculty need significant time to plan and reflect. Student-to-teacher ratio is no doubt important, but research shows that dedicated time for professional development and quality of school leadership is proven to be most predictive of student success. When on a school tour, be sure to ask about these two things.

To ensure that our faculty have time to spend on professional development, we have an early release on Wednesdays. During this time, faculty engage in ongoing professional development, collaboration, and reflection, and our Middle and Upper School students have electives and extracurricular offerings.

faculty pic-1

Environment as the third teacher…

In the Reggio Emilia approach, the environment is seen as the third teacher, as we know that environments influence how we behave and what we pay attention to. If children spend their waking learning hours in disorganized and unappealing places it will influence how they behave, what they are learning, and who they become.

When you walk through a school, you make your own observations about the environment, just as our own students would do. What did you see? What didn’t you see? How did you feel?

Environment as the third teacher

Our faculty are encouraged to think of constructing the classroom environment with the changing children in front of them. Not that you have to rearrange your furniture or decorate ad nauseum, but that you live in the space and respond to the changing students that live in the space with you, and consider additions and transformations that will continue to support how children interact with learning.

We look at what is in the environment, as well as what is absent, which provides children with essential information about who and what is important. Every effort should be made to create a setting that is rich in possibilities for exploring diversity.

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