The world-renowned and innovative approach to early childhood education, known as the Reggio Emilia Approach, has arrived in the UAE with the opening of The Kensington Nursery – a new pre-school child care centre based in Jumeirah, Dubai.
Reggio Emilia , an educational philosophy named after the northern Italian town of the same name, and the home of the approach, has been hailed by many educators as being among the best pre-school learning systems in the world attracting global attention from education authorities, researchers and just about everyone interested in early childhood education best practices. Its early embrace by educators in Italy and throughout Europe has spread to Asia, Australia, North America, and other parts of the world.
Under the leadership of the visionary founding director, Loris Malaguzzi (1920-1994), the programme was developed by a co-operative of parents, teachers, and children, committed to constructing a positive and united society, at the end of World War II.
The result was the creation of a programme based on the principles of respect, responsibility, and community. Under the Reggio Emilia approach, children are encouraged to demonstrate resourcefulness, curiosity, imagination, inventiveness, competence and a desire to interact and communicate with others. This is achieved by allowing the children an opportunity to explore and discover for themselves, with-in a supportive and enriching environment.
The Kensington Nursery follows the Reggio Emilia principles of learning, in tandem with the curriculum of the British Early Learning Foundation. It offers a curriculum for babies (4 months to 2 years), toddlers (2 to 3 years), and pre-school (3 to 5 years).
Frances Wood, Director of Education for The Kensington Nursery, says â€œThe Reggio Emilia Approach places emphasis on a childâ€™s natural ability to learn and a childâ€™s individual interests. With-in a themed curriculum the children are given a number of activities through which they may achieve specific learning goals. The system emphasises the fact that a child must have interest in, and control over, his or her day-to-day activity if their learning is to be meaningful and lastingâ€.
â€œOur mission is to offer qualative and innovative education in the pre-school sector, and a number of new nurseries offering this unique education system are planned over the next few years,â€ she adds. â€œWe believe that to produce the well-balanced citizens and great leaders in this fast-evolving society, we must invest in educating our children at the earliest opportunity.
â€œIn schools using Reggio Emilia, the learning environment is given great importance,â€ says Wood. â€œThis is why the Kensington Nursery has been constructed in such a way that it encourages the integration of each classroom with the rest of the school, and the school with the surrounding community, whilst there are clearly designated spaces for large- and small-group activities. Throughout the school, there is an effort to create opportunities for children to interact.
The Kensington Nursery has an Early Learning Resource Centre, an Art Room, Language Room, Music Pagoda, Outdoor Areas, a Sensory Garden, a Skill Play Zone, Activity Centre, Water Zone, Organic Garden and a Petting Area for observing and feeding small animals.