Zion Lutheran Early Childhood Education Center

Reggio Emilia

Reflecting on her work with her classmates.

International attention has focused on the schools of Reggio Emilia, Italy since they were selected by NEWSWEEK as “the best early childhood institute in the world.” In the Reggio approach the curriculum builds upon the interests of the children. Projects are in-depth explorations of topics that are motivated by the excitement and curiosity of young children.

The method of in-depth study of topics in projects is through observation, experimentation, books and technology. Children “represent” the topic through “language” such as music, drama, story, construction, sculpture, paint and drawing. The teacher’s written observations of the children’s questions and conversations serve to guide the project.

Collaboration is key. Children are encouraged to communicate, critique, negotiate, hypothesize and problem solve as they work in small groups. Teachers are researchers with the children, as they guide, lend their expertise and document the children’s learning.

Examples of two learning experiences at Zion are:

A Pineapple Discovery in the 2 year

An Animal Study in the 2

An Ocean study by the 3 year

In love with nature in the 3 year

Skyscrapers a study by the 4 year

Castles study from the 4 year

Each class in Zion’s ECEC is staffed with two teachers: however, in the Reggio approach the environment is considered the “third teacher.” The classroom is set up to inspire, nurture and encourage discovery. Every corner of every space has an identity and purpose, and provides opportunities for learning. The outside playground for the ECEC offers an additional space for exploration: there is a work bench, sand area, picnic tables, climbing equipment, water tables, art area with easel, playhouse and a shaded deck. The design takes into account the developmental characteristics and learning style of each child.

We at Zion believe that our Christian vision for early childhood education is reinforced by the Reggio philosophy.

The Image of the Child: Children are strong and capable, interested in constructing their own learning. They have rights, which include high quality care and education that supports the development of their potentials. Each little one is a child of the living God; uniquely gifted and unconditionally loved.
The Role of the Environment: The classroom is a warm and beautiful home-like space where everyone has a sense of belonging. The environment is a “third teacher” that encourages problem solving, exploration and discovery. Our program is designed to promote the growth of the total child in a nurturing family environment. Because Jesus Christ is the head of our family, the classroom atmosphere is one of love, joy and peace.
The Importance of Relationships: The environment is intended to support relationships and communication between teachers, children and parents as well as with the natural world and learning materials. Relationships with God and one another, love for God and one another is the focus of our lives.
Cooperation and Collaboration: Parents, children, teachers and support staff work together at all levels to support one another’s growth and development. Our role as Christian educators is to support your family; continuity between home and school is important to your child’s educational success.
The Journey: “Learning is a journey, not a destination.” Learning is not a linear process, but a spiral progression. As Christians we have the analogy of disciples on a journey, “we walk by the spirit.”