Reggio Emilia Approach

Our practice at Carousel Nursery School is inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach. The northern Italian town of Reggio Emilia has a firmly established worldwide reputation for forward thinking and excellence to early childhood education. In Reggio Emilia, the high quality experiences provided for young children are built on a set of key values which are reflected in both our practice and our CAROUSEL values. Moreover, our daily practice at Carousel Nursery School embodies the following key principles from the Reggio Emilia approach:

All children have potential

Our image of the child is rich in potential, strong, powerful, competent and, most of all connected to adults and other children. Loris Malaguzzi

From birth the child has the need and the right to communicate and interact with others. Through energy and curiousity the child constructs his/her own learning.

Children are communicators

Children have the right to say what they think should happen and have their opinions taken into account. In order to achieve this, children have the right to use many forms of symbolic representation: words, movement, drawing, painting, building, sculpture, shadow play, collage, dramatic play, music (the “hundred languages”). In this way children are able to explore and communicate ideas in many different ways, and are able to link ideas across different media. In our multicultural nurseries, we may not always share a language in common with a child right from the beginning. Basing our practice on listening to the children’s hundred or more languages enables us to include everybody and to recognise the value of different point of views and the interpretations of others.

Educators are partners, nurturers and guides

Educators facilitate children’s exploration of themes – short- or long-term projects – and guide experiences of open-ended discovery and problem-solving. They observe and listen closely to children in order to deepen their understanding of the children’s ideas and their ways of working together. They reflect in groups to analyse their observations and decide how to further support the children’s learning.

Documentation as a learning tool

Careful consideration and attention are given to the presentation of the thinking of the children and the adults who work with them. Transcriptions of children’s words and dialogues, photographs, videos, observations and drawings are used for groups of adults and children to reflect on the learning that is taking place. The documentation enables children, educators and parents to share each other’s learning, not just at the end of a learning process but as an aid to a continuing group idea.

Families as partners

Families have an active role in children’s learning experience. They are encouraged to share their ideas and experiences of their children’s learning, and are able to see what has been happening in our nurseries through documentation and discussions.

Promoting the expressive arts


Children are largely encouraged to participate in a variety of expressive arts such as drawing, painting, writing, sculpting, dramatic play, puppetry, shadow play, dancing, music, textures, construction etc. It is believed that through expressive arts, children can revisit subjects of interest through many different media, experiencing their world their world in many different ways. Expressive arts are all about the learning process rather than the final product. ‘Our task, regarding creativity, is to help children climb their own mountains, as high as possible.’ (Loris Malaguzzi)

Loris Malaguzzi (1920-1994), the inspiration behind the Reggio Emilia approach recognised all the many different ways in which children interpret the world and represent their ideas and theories. He emphasized the needs for adults to recognise and value all forms of expression and communication in his poem ‘No Way. The Hundred Is There.’ This poem inspires the daily practice at our nurseries.

The child
Is made of one hundred.
The child has
A hundred languages
A hundred hands
A hundred thoughts
A hundred ways of thinking
Of playing, of speaking.
A hundred ways of listening
Of marvelling of loving
A hundred joys
For singing and understanding
A hundred worlds
To discover
A hundred worlds
To invent
A hundred worlds
To dream
The child has
A hundred languages
(and a hundred hundred hundred more)
But they steal ninety-nine.
The school and the culture
Separate the head from the body.
They tell the child;
To think without hands
To do without head
To listen and not to speak
To understand without joy
To love and to marvel
Only at Easter and Christmas
They tell the child:
To discover the world already there
And of the hundred
They steal ninety-nine.
They tell the child:
That work and play
Reality and fantasy
Science and imagination
Sky and earth
Reason and dream
Are things
That do not belong together
And thus they tell the child
That the hundred is not there.
The child says:
No way. The hundred is there.

Loris Malaguzzi
Founder of the Reggio Approach