Cire’s encounter with the 100 Languages of Children and the Reggio Emilia Approach

Reggio Emilia values children as strong, capable, curious and resilient individuals with a desire for knowledge.

By Diletta Lanciana, Executive Manager Cire Family and Children’s Services

Did you know that children have many languages – potentially 100?

That’s what is estimated by the Reggio Emilia Approach to early years education. Reggio Emilia believes children, as human beings, possess 100 languages: a hundred ways of thinking, expressing, understanding, and encountering otherness through a way of thinking that weaves together and does not separate the various dimensions of experience. The reference to 100 languages is a metaphor for the extraordinary potential of children, their knowledge-building and creative processes, the myriad forms with which life is manifested and knowledge is constructed.

The world-renowned Reggio Emilia Approach is innovative and inspiring and one that Cire Family and Children’s Services is committed to adopting across its multiple sites in the Yarra Ranges and sharing with all those within its reach.

Cire is set to become a leader in Reggio Emilia in the region with an ambitious year-long project to train all its educators in the approach. Cire is privileged to have received the necessary funding through the Frank Leyden Tot-Ed Trust and Norman H Johns Trust. The project will create the opportunity to build capacity and establish a community of practice to truly embed Reggio Emilia into Cire’s children’s services

Developed in a northern Italy town of the same name, Reggio Emilia was founded by Loris Malaguzzi. Its underlying philosophy is embedded in the fabric of local government, communities and people in Italy and while it can’t be replicated in its exact form, Cire seeks to be Reggio-inspired and adopt its core values, beliefs and principles.

Reggio Emilia values children as strong, capable, curious and resilient individuals with a desire for knowledge. It emphasises respect, responsibility, and community involvement. A philosophy that resonates strongly Cire Services Inc. one of the largest not-for-profits in the Yarra Ranges which serves the region and beyond through Cire Family and Children’s Services, Cire Community School for at-risk youth, Cire Community Hubs and Cire Training.

The approach views the child as central and active collaborators in their own learning. Children use many ways to communicate their thoughts and feelings and Reggio Emilia encourages them to explore all these ways of communicating through speech, art and play. Loris Malaguzzi’s well-known poem, The 100 Languages of Children, is a metaphor for this and the endless potential of children. It highlights the infinite ways and mediums that children can express themselves, their ideas, feelings, discoveries, thoughts, theories, understanding and knowledge. Through painting, sculpture, music, science, dancing, laughing, crying, movement, role play, construction, storytelling, and many others, children are able to communicate and give a voice to their thoughts and ideas.

The approach is one of encouragement, exploration and problem solving. Children are encouraged to be researchers where their thinking and problem-solving skills are provoked and ignited. Project work is at the forefront giving children the opportunity to actively participate and question things. There is a strong emphasis on the social development of children as part of the community, and the relationships they have with teachers, family and other children. Similarly, Cire Children’s Services is always looking for ways to connect and engage with local communities.

Cire Children’s Services is keen to share Reggio Emilia with our children, families and the community. Our upcoming centre Open Days in September will include an art exhibition to showcase the extraordinary capabilities of our young learners and our encounter with The 100 Languages of Children.

Looking further ahead, a Reggio Emilia expert consultant is about to commence training Cire’s educators. We welcome families and the community to come on the journey with us as we embark on the first stage of the highly regarded approach to early childhood education.