the municipal
infant-toddler centers and
preschools of reggio emilia

and Educational Research Center

of the Municipal
Infant-toddler Centers
and Preschools
of Reggio Emilia

Via Bligny, 1
(International Center Loris Malaguzzi)
tel. +39 0522 514900
fax +39 0522 230733

  Opening hours
Tuesday and Thursday
3.30 p.m. - 6 p.m.
10 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Comunicazione di Reggio Children e dell’Istituzione Nidi e Scuole del Comune di Reggio Emilia a tutti coloro che sono interessati al Reggio Approach
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Preschools and Infant-toddler Centers - Istituzione of the Municipality of Reggio Emilia
The experience of the Municipal Infant-toddler Centers and Preschools of Reggio Emilia began in 1963 with the opening of the first preschools (children aged three to six), followed in 1970 by the infant-toddler centers (children three months to three years old). Within this experience, a pedagogical and cultural project has been developed and implemented that has continued to represent a point of reference of intense vitality for the city of Reggio Emilia. It is the subject of interest, research, and exchange on the part of teachers, teacher educators, researchers, administrators, and political and cultural figures from all over Italy and throughout the world.
This educational experience for children aged three months to six years is based on the image of a child who has great potentials for development and is the subject of rights, a child who learns and grows in relation with others.
The specific identity of the early childhood services managed by the Municipality of Reggio Emilia is based on a number of distinct features: the participation of the families, the collegial work of the staff, the importance given to the school environment, the presence of the atelier and the on-site kitchen, and the pedagogical-didactic coordinating team.

- The project of family participation in the life and management of the municipal early childhood services is deeply rooted in the history of the experience: the first schools were built and opened on popular initiative, and the local territory has a longstanding culture and spirit of participation.
These infant-toddler centers and preschools have always contributed to building a more attentive and aware culture of childhood in the city. They are offered as places for meeting and discussion with families and citizens on the local pedagogical experience as well as educational issues in general.
Each infant-toddler center and preschool has a Community-Early Childhood Council composed of parents, community members, teachers, staff, and the pedagogical coordinator (pedagogista). Elected every three years, the Council represents the basic democratic structure having the responsibility to promote family participation in the educational project of the infant-toddler centers and preschools, contributing to maintaining the quality of the service.
The next Council elections will be held in each center and school during the months of November and December 2002.

- The organization of the staff of each infant-toddler center and preschool is based on the values of collegiality, relationships, exchange, and co-responsibility.
The teaching staff's weekly work schedule comprises thirty-six hours, including direct contact hours with the children and time for staff meetings, professional development, and meetings with the families.
The work shifts are arranged so that the entire staff (teachers, cook, helpers, atelierista) is present during the morning hours, a period of intense activity at the center and school. This helps to create the conditions that give shape to the educational quality of the service.

- In the infant-toddler centers and preschools, the physical environment and spaces are organized and designed from the architectural and functional point of view to support the interweaving of relationships and encounters between adults and children, among the children, and among the adults. The environment is conceived and lived as an educational interlocutor, offering opportunities and structured spaces that provide each child and the group of children with stimuli for play, discovery, and research.

- Another particular feature of these services is the presence of spaces called the atelier and mini-atelier in both the infant-toddler centers and preschools, and a teacher called atelierista in the preschool.
The atelier and the mini-ateliers are spaces designed to offer daily opportunities for each child and the group of children to encounter a wide variety of materials and expressive languages, and different points of view, where hands, mind, and emotions are all active contemporaneously, giving value to the expressiveness and creativity of each child.

- The choice of having an on-site kitchen in each infant-toddler center and preschool is another distinctive characteristic of the service. The highly qualified kitchen staff prepares meals daily for the children and adults following a balanced diet developed by a team of dieticians, pediatricians, and cooks. New parents are given a copy of the dietary menu when their child enters the infant-toddler center.
The diet may vary in relation to a child's particular health conditions certified by the pediatrician, but also in relation to dietary prohibitions dictated by religious choices that the families ask be respected.
At the infant-toddler center, the cook is available to talk to the families and ensures that a personalized diet is maintained for each child up to one year of age.

The infant-toddler centers and preschools are overseen by a single pedagogical-didactic coordinating team composed of the Director of Education, the Director of the Infant-toddler Centers and Preschools, and a group of pedagogistas who coordinate and are responsible for the centers and schools assigned to them, with one pedagogista specifically in charge of following the children with special rights (special needs) and their families.
The pedagogistas establish the pedagogical guidelines and organization of the services, participate in meetings with the families, organize and carry out professional development initiatives, and coordinate the teachers and staff of the centers and schools.

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