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Summarise the underpinning philosophy of one international model. Discuss the elements of this philosophy in relation to a setting.

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Introduction

Summarise the underpinning philosophy of one international model. Discuss the elements of this philosophy in relation to a setting. This essay aims to summarise the underpinning philosophy of the Reggio Emilia approach to early years education. The philosophy behind the Reggio Emilia approach can be broken down into five main ideas. In this essay, each of these areas will be looked at individually and discussed in detail: what it means and how it is put into practice in Reggio settings. Each idea will then be considered in relation to the Foundation Stage. The essay will determine how important this value is in Foundation Stage settings. From practical experience in Early Years settings in the UK, direct comparisons will be made between the philosophy behind the Foundation Stage and what is seen in reality. This may compare or contrast with what the theory says. A comparison to the Reggio approach will also be made. Reggio Emilia is "a small town in politically stable, prosperous Northern Italy" (Fawcwtt, sightlines website). Reggio Emilia pre-schools have been in existence for almost sixty years. The first of these schools were established immediately after the Second World War by parents "determined to give their children a better future" (Thornton and Brunton, 2003, p.16). The first ever Reggio pre-school was founded on Liberation day 1945; "a symbol of regeneration and hope" (Thornton and Brunton, 2003, p.16). ...read more.

Middle

This learning happens from the relationships they have with all the people mentioned above, but particularly the children: "the role of the teacher is first and foremost to be that of a learner alongside the children" (cyert website, 2003). Relationships in the Foundation Stage Document are also considered to be very significant to the development of the children. As in the Reggio approach, practitioners are seen as learning all the time and changing what they do in order to best meet the needs of the children: "practitioners must be able to observe and respond appropriately to children" (QCA, 2000, p11). Relationships between children are also viewed as very important in the Foundation Stage; children should have many opportunities "to work alone and in small and large groups" (QCA, 2000, p.28). Establishing "constructive relationships...with other practitioners" (QCA, 2000, p.28) is also seen as vital. In the document, less emphasis seems to be placed on relationships with the community, however, from personal experience in a Reception class of a Primary School this relationship does appear to be central. As already mentioned, parents play a vital role in the Reggio pre-schools; they lead an "active partnership in children's learning experience" (sightlines website). Parents are made to feel welcome and valued in the settings as educators and parents work together for the good of the child. The relationship between parents and educators involves the "exchange of ideas and sharing of different wisdoms" (sightlines website). ...read more.

Conclusion

"The interaction between the environment, the children and the resources they use, is regarded as an important 'relationship' within the Reggio philosophy" (Thornton and Brunton, 2003, p.17). The environment is described as the 'third teacher'. The importance placed on the environment links to the Montessori approach and the 'Prepared Environment' she advocated. The natural design and materials used in the Reggio environment links to the Steiner's ideas about what the early years environment should be like. Classrooms are built "off a central piazza, a space for meetings and encounters" (Thornton and Brunton, 2003, p.17) and each room has an 'atelier', a creative workshop area. The dining room is in a central place in the school "reflecting the importance placed on preparing and sharing food" (Thornton and Brunton, 2003, p.17). Space and light are very important in the Reggio classrooms; "space is designed to encourage encounters, communication and relationships" (sightlines website). In the Foundation Stage, the environment is also deemed very important to children's development: "For children to have rich and stimulating experiences, the learning environment should be well planned and well organised" (QCA, 2000, p.12). From practical experience it is clear that strong emphasis is placed on the learning environment, both indoors and outdoors. The fifth area of great significance in the Reggio approach is Reflective Practice. The "education provided by the pre-schools is regarded as an on-going educational project" (Thornton and Brunton, 2003, p.17). Just as they are trying to encourage children to be researchers, adults "see themselves as researchers, and are engaged in continuous on-going training and theoretical exploration" (Rinaldi, 2003). ...read more.

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