NEW BALANCE: Isabella Matthews and Oliver Whitehouse from Ipswich Junior Grammar School.
NEW BALANCE: Isabella Matthews and Oliver Whitehouse from Ipswich Junior Grammar School. Sarah Harvey

Early learning on new path with Reggio Emilia

"CHILDREN are full of curiosity and creativity; they are not empty memory banks waiting to be filled with facts, figures and dates."

That's the philosophy at the heart of the Reggio Emilia approach to early learning and one that was recently delivered to early learning educators across Ipswich.

Crowds gathered at the Ipswich Girls' Grammar School last week to sit in on the Reggio Emilia Australia Information Exchange and learn about a new culture of childhood education.

The Reggio Emilia approach to teaching young children puts the natural development of children as well as the close relationships that they share with their environment at the centre of its philosophy.

In 1991, the Italian Reggio Emilia preschools were given international recognition after a panel of experts hailed the early education centres as among the best in the world.

As a result of its success, leading educationalists and institutions are increasingly adopting the Reggio Emilia approach for their preschool programs.

The Ipswich Junior Grammar School was one of the first in the region to embrace the philosophy by making changes to the physical environment and lessons based on the children's needs and interests.

Staff have worked with children to build a natural garden bed with an uneven wooden pathway, stones and plants that the children now play in.

Junior school director Kirsten Edols said the garden project had helped children learn to balance on uneven surfaces. She said her goal was to change the direction of early education to help improve outcomes for Ipswich kids.



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