Reggio is known as a 'play-based preschool', this means that children are encouraged to explore and learn based on their personal interests. It means that children are allowed adequate time to make their own discoveries and the freedom to navigate conflict. It means that educators are smart (... very smart) and design their classrooms with the intentionality to help children explore necessary concepts on a deeper level. It means children 'think' they are playing all day; however, they are learning, growing, developing independence, and becoming a lifelong learner.
Does a play-based school mean that their students are out of control?
Does a play-based school mean that our classrooms lack structure?
How could a school that prides themselves on allowing children to be independent and curious, maintain enough structure to have their students ready for kindergarten? Let us explain....
Structure for our program comes from consistency, routines, and boundaries of character. Students in our school are shown a balance of teacher-directed lessons and unstructured play throughout their school day. By maintaining structure with a consistent schedule, students feel confident and safe in understanding 'what's next?' and can move through their world without any uneasiness.
You can take a look at our schedule under our "program" tab. During our large group activities, teachers prompt students to ask more questions for deeper processing and participate together through collaborative activities. Our teacher-directed time blocks in our schedule allow children the opportunity to experience structure in the form of adult-guidance, but continue to empower students to feel in control of their own epiphanies.
When it comes to play, we believe that it is much more powerful for children to understand a new concept by discovering it on their own than being told about it by another adult... so we help our children 'think' they discovered concepts independently. Our educators design their classrooms with purpose and intentionality to extend their large group lesson into the centers children will explore in during rotations. One observer may see "play", but us educators see "lesson extension". Winning.
So, yes. We do believe in structure and predictability for our little learners. We believe in consistency and helping children feel comfortable with a schedule that would match one similar to Kindergarten. We believe in routines and promise to instill basic rules of respect and kindness. But we also believe in creating a lifelong love of learning and will help to develop this in every single one of our students by letting them thrive in our
National Association for the Education of Young Children discusses the importance of play for your child during early childhood