A curriculum invented in Italy is perhaps not what you would expect in a Malaysian preschool, but many parents find the Reggio Emilia approach appealing. It has been designed keeping in mind the developmental milestones and interests of children in the early years.
In a Reggio Emilia-inspired preschool, children embark on an exploratory journey where they are encouraged to be deeply involved in the learning process. Projects and activities are derived from their own interests, queries and responses. The immersive curriculum encourages the child to engage, experience, analyse and solve problems.
One such school is Odyssey, located in Setia Alam, Selangor. The school’s founders were motivated by key elements of Reggio Emilia: innovative environment, creative techniques and the emphasis that educators give to the voice of the child.
Inquiry-led curriculum and a hands-on, minds-on and hearts-on approach
Loris Malaguzzi, the founder of the Reggio pedagogy, believed there are ‘hundred languages of children’. Speech is just one of the many ‘languages’ they use to convey their thoughts, understanding and creativity. This very idea inspired Odyssey to honour the different learning styles and the ways in which children represent their ideas and perspectives.
“Children are competent and curious learners, and we should provide educational sources that nurture the potential talents, natural gifts and abilities of the child”, says Petulia Lun, Odyssey Centre Director.
Three important elements in a learning journey
“Children should acquire knowledge and skills that help them develop as creative thinkers, communicators and rational individuals who contribute to the society as a whole”, believes Petulia Lun.
There are three kinds of teachers in a Reggio Emilia-inspired environment: the teacher or educator, the environment and the children themselves.
- Teachers are not seen as an instructors but as guides and equal partners in the child’s journey of learning. They observe the children, their questions, stories and interests and offer opportunities to learn and explore. A low child-to-teacher ratio ensures optimal learning for every child, facilitated through activities and materials that are open-ended and developmentally appropriate.
- In the Reggio Emilia approach, children are seen as competent and curious, capable of learning through their own interests, exploration and interaction with educators, peers, parents and the environment. Hence, they are encouraged to work in groups, and every child’s participation, questions and thoughts are valued equally. They are involved in hands-on experiences that challenge and stimulate them to think, interact and negotiate. Projects and creative activities provide an environment that is conducive for holistic development.
- The Reggio Emilia approach recognises the significance of the environment in the all-round development of the child.
“At Odyssey, we get the children to apply what they have learnt in real-life situations. This is where projects come in. We have a different project every term, ranging from cooking, outdoor learning, art and music to performances,” says Petulia Lun.
For example, Colours of Odyssey is a platform for showcasing the children’s creative expressions and art – their interpretation and expression of different ideas, perspectives and feelings. In Singapore, since its inception in 2009, the annual flagship event has grown into an iconic project that celebrates the dynamism of children and role of parents, teachers and community in shaping lives.
The learning labs of Odyssey here, such as the Atelier, music room, outdoor playground, music garden, and the Little Chef Lab have been designed to meet the needs of tactile, auditory and visual learners. The diverse experiences and multi-sensory lessons help in inculcating a love of learning in the children.
This post is sponsored and written by Odyssey.
Why should you choose Odyssey and the Reggio Emilia approach? Specially designed for an innovative and exploratory learning, Odyssey offers an award-winning curriculum in a well-equipped Reggio Emilia-inspired campus.