Understanding the Reggio Appproach: Early Years Education in Practice

Understanding the Reggio Appproach: Early Years Education in Practice

Understanding the Reggio Appproach: Early Years Education in Practice

Understanding the Reggio Appproach: Early Years Education in Practice


'Linda Thornton and Pat Brunton have been immersed in the field for many years and write authoritatively, with understanding and clarity. The book is thoroughly up to date and offers a useful reference source. This book is very welcome, it is accessible, readable and sound.' (Review of the first edition in ReFocus, Journal of the UK Reggio Network, Summer 2005)

Understanding the Reggio Approach is a much needed source of information for those wishing to extend and consolidate their understanding of the Reggio Approach. Analysing the essential elements of the Reggio Approach to early childhood and its relationship to quality early years practice, this new edition is fully updated with the latest developments, including references to the Early Years Foundation Stage and a brand new chapter focusing on creativity.

This book:

  • Describes the key features of the Reggio Approach to early childhood and provides examples from infant-toddler centres and preschools in Reggio Emilia
  • Provides students and practitioners with the relevant information about a key pedagogical influence on high quality early years practice in the EYFS
  • Highlights the key ideas that practitioners should consider when reviewing and reflecting on their own practice
  • Can be used as the basis for continuing professional development and action research

Written to support the work of all those in the field of early education and childcare, this is a vital text for students, early years and childcare practitioners, teachers, Early Years Professionals, Children's Centre professionals, lecturers, advisory teachers and setting managers.


An increasing number of people in the United Kingdom have been touched by ‘the Reggio experience’ in some way – through visiting Reggio Emilia on a study tours, viewing the Hundred Languages of Children Exhibition or being involved in one of the many projects across the country which draw their inspiration from the work of the Reggio preschools and infant–toddler centres. We have visited Reggio Emilia on five occasions since 1999. In 1999/2000 we were involved in the arrangements for the 2000 visit of the Hundred Languages of Children Exhibition to the UK, hosted a visit for educators from Reggio and initiated an arts and early years research project and exhibition. Since then we have maintained our links with educators in Reggio and have worked collaboratively to help disseminate a wider understanding of the Reggio Approach.

Since 2001, at seminars and presentations we have given across the country, the comments made, and the questions posed, have been very similar. Participants have been inspired and excited by their introduction to the Reggio Approach, and are keen to find out more. Many beautifully illustrated books have been produced by the Reggio Children organisation describing the work of the infant–toddler centres and preschools and the philosophy behind the Reggio Approach (see the Appendix). There are also several publications from educators in Australia, the United States and the rest of Europe describing their response to the ‘Reggio experience’ (Cadwell 1997, 2003; Gedin 1998; Abbott and Nutbrown 2001; Millikan 2003; Wurm 2005; Lewin-Benham 2006, 2008).

The aim of this book is to share our understanding of the researchbased approach to early education of Reggio Emilia. It is subjective, in that it represents our personal interpretation of what we have seen and heard in Reggio Emilia, based on our visits, discussions with pedagogistas, atelieristas and teachers, and supported by extensive research, reflection and discussion. As succinctly put by Carlina Rinaldi, pedagogical consultant to Reggio Children, ‘You can only see what you know’. When we first visited the preschools in 1999 we saw science and technology, not art, and experienced children as researchers, not artists. The truth is they are both. ‘Each child is an artist, each child a scientist’ (Bruner 2004).

Wherever possible we have provided references to original sources from Reggio to substantiate our interpretations. We encourage you to read (and re-read) these texts to further your own understanding of the Reggio Approach, and then to consider how it can be used as a source of inspiration for your work with young children.

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