Choosing the right preschool for your child can seem daunting with so many amazing philosophies and schools available here in Dallas. And there may be as many “right” options as there are different types of children, so of course, one size doesn’t fit all. But after giving it a lot of thought, we decided to send our son to a Reggio Emilia (“Reggio”)-inspired school over two years ago and haven’t looked back!
Before I became a mom, I researched EVERYTHING. I came to a few conclusions that shaped my search for the right preschool:
- play-based learning is critical for child development;
- children’s early environments should help them learn while keeping them feeling safe and loved;
- the most important skills I wanted my child to develop were collaboration, communication, critical thinking, creative innovation, and confidence;
- socio-emotional learning is just as important as academic learning.
So when I found the Reggio-inspired school my son now attends, I was floored! It offered everything I was looking for.
What is the Reggio Method?
The Reggio approach views children as independent learners who are excited to explore their world. Children’s curiosity guides their classroom learning, which is expressed in many different artistic, physical, and academic ways. Free play and interacting with nature are cornerstones of the Reggio method.
What I love the most about our Reggio-inspired school is how happy all the children are. The joy is palpable as you walk down the halls and peek into classrooms. The kids are doing what they do best: keeping busy, being curious, building, exploring, explaining, creating. The teachers are exceedingly patient and speak to the children as colleagues in learning who are worthy of respect. Strict discipline is set aside in favor of constructive redirecting.
What I love almost as much is that the teachers listen to the children and help them explore things they’re interested in. This starts very early. For instance, when my son was in the one-year-old class, his teachers realized that several of the kids in his class loved construction and trucks. They modified the curriculum to offer projects that helped them explore the sounds, sights, and functions of construction vehicles. As the kids get older, they explore certain themes through many different angles and help develop their critical thinking skills and artistic expression.
Reggio schools are joyful places, full of beauty and wonder. Different studios (or ateliers) are set up to help the children fully explore nature, cooking, art, reading, and music. Reggio educators work hard to regularly provide novel sensory experiences for the children, and to respond to their interests as they work on a constantly evolving curriculum. Children are encouraged to think and speak for themselves, and work together to get things accomplished. And the teachers regularly document the children’s progress and development so that eager parents can follow the journey as well.
I really can’t say enough great things about Reggio and Reggio-inspired schools! When trying to choose the “right” school for your child, my best advice is to first pin down your early childhood educational philosophy. Then pick a corresponding school that gives you the warm fuzzies. If you want your child to develop a love of learning while maintaining a joyful demeanor and building relationships within a loving community, Reggio might be for you!
Our contributors are sharing why they chose their school, or approach to education, to help you find the best school for your family! Make sure to check out our Guide to Childcare & Schools in and around Dallas!